[this blog post will be best paired with louis armstrong’s “what a wonderful world”]
a case for world mission: why go so far when there’s so much need in your own backyard?
i have been going on a few trips lately, including a couple conferences at universities. when we travel to conferences, we go as representatives of hillside and world horizons to–more or less–interrupt the lives of the students we meet. many of us come into missions because someone interrupted the path that we were on and gave us another option. we facilitate interruptions. this includes meeting a lot of students and so we participate in a lot of introductions and question sessions. one of the more common questions students ask are “why international missions?” or “why go so far?” or “don’t people in america need Jesus too?”
but america is pretty well looked after. people in america have ample opportunity to hear the gospel. so why go so far? four reasons:
- i had nothing better to do
- balance the scales
and one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the law?” and he said to him, “you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with your soul and with all your mind. this is the great and first commandment. and the second is like it: you shall love your neighbor as yourself. on these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets”
it is the first love of my God that drives me to love and love in action. and drives me to love my neighbor.
love is the thing that covers all and when we love, it is when we see urgent needs being tended to–including the most urgent need of all–making disciples of all nations. there are problems–big problems–everywhere, but when i think about the number organizations and humanitarian efforts and relief groups that are trying to provide for desperate needs, i think about how there is only one thing that will truly help. people don’t need a new organization or a new program–they need Jesus. we are truly working for the deepest justice–the right for everyone to have access to the gospel.
i had nothing better to do
while i was still considering whether or not to go into missions by committing to the internship for the next year, i was pursued a few options that–if they worked out–would give me a reason not to pursue something else after graduation. i looked into becoming an art academic advisor at my university, i started applying to work on a couple cruise ships, considered staying in alaska to work in tourism full time, and looked into a couple small art galleries. but missions was still on my mind. some of my options fell through and others i decided not to pursue when i realized that none of these options compared. i have nothing better to do with my life. why would i want to pursue anything other than taking part in God’s plan for reaching the nations? there is nothing better–there is nothing more worth my time.
when i first began looking into this internship, international missions were very new to me–becoming a missionary was never my plan (my path had been interrupted). on the home page of the world horizons’ website, it reads: “world horizons is a mission organization working among the world’s least reached nations.” when i read that for the first time, i thought, “well, yeah. duh. isn’t that the point of missions? that seems a little redundant.” and during my first day of internship orientation, i learned that 99% of missions go to places in the world where there is already access to the gospel, and about 40% of the world’s nations are considered unreached. 1% of missions are reaching 40% of the world. our director, kris, explains this by saying that if every christian woke up tomorrow morning and dedicated himself or herself to missions in his or her backyard–which would seem like a beautiful day for the church–40% of the world will die never hearing the gospel. 40% of the world does not have a christian in its backyard to share.
we go to help right that imbalance.
everything we do is bookended with love.
we go so far because we love.