The very last thing Jesus said before he ascended into heaven was this, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8). I think too often we get so focused on the ends of the earth that we don’t give much thought to all the space between here and there.
We were talking about the mission of the church in our Sunday morning Bible class yesterday. Someone mentioned a relative who had done a mission trip in their own hometown. That really got me thinking about how we think about mission work. The traditional model of short term missions is to spend a week or two in another country. You raise support to cover costs and then you go. After a short amount of time you return home where life typically settles back in to the normal routine.
Now, back to the mission in our own backyard. What if we raised money (or even spent our own money 😉 helping people in our neighborhood or city? In September our congregation is going to paint some homes in our community. If this is actually a mission, which it is, why not raise support to get as many needs met as possible? We do it overseas, why not do it in our communities and let our lights shine with those who live nearby and that we can continue to reach out to months and years later? Why do we disconnect missions overseas and our mission in our own backyard? Why do we raise support for one but not the other? Why are we willing to personally sacrifice our time, talents and resources for people halfway around the globe but not for people at home? How much more effective would we be at reaching non-Christians if our perspective on this changed and we really started investing in those around us?