Monday, August 15, 2005

Musings on Missions

Acts 1:8 - But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my (Jesus) witnesses, telling people about me everywhere--in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. We recently had a big missions day at our church, as our local teen ministry, Deaf Teen Quest, completed a home missions trip to eastern Kentucky, and one of our beloved ladies, Lorie, rejoined us after a 3-month stay doing Deaf missions in Ecuador. Today was a testimony day, and the teens helped lead the service, doing music and sharing their stories about the mission trip. Lorie only gave a brief testimony, but that is okay, since she needs to rest and prepare for a "real" report, and to get her mind back onto American Sign Language! ;-) But I used the above verse today to explain the importance of missions to the church. It's so utterly important, and this verse outlines the "battle plan" exactly as it should be. The disciples were to start in Jerusalem, at home. All missions start here at home, wherever "home" is for you. Next, missions extend to Judea. This is you local area, your county of residence or possibly your state or geographic region. The teens' trip to eastern Kentucky is a great example of that. They are not home, but they are in their state of residence. Many others work in public service to their county, doing good works through such organizations as Habitat for Humanity or working for state agencies, spreading the Good News about Jesus throughout their region. Just so you don't get confused or feel left out, "tri-state" organizations are good examples, too, because they are not "home" missions but are under the category of Judea. Samaria is more accurately the country of residence. For us that would be America. There are a great many programs to show this, such as World Changers. We had some Deaf teens from out of state participate in the mission trip--this is another example of a wider focus on missions. And then you have "the ends of the earth." This is what most people think of when they think of missions--going to another country and sharing the Gospel with another culture. This is what Lorie did for three months. But even Lorie did not just up and go to Ecuador. She started here, at home in Louisville. All missions, international or otherwise, start right where you are. She started through serving the church and the community. Without that, she would have no basis for going to Ecuador. She would have no experience sharing the Gospel. It is so important that missions start at home, that I am convinced that we have a terrible model for missions. This goes for every denomination, including the Catholic Church. We have focused so much on bringing Jesus to "unreached people groups" that we have lost sight of the unreached people groups right under our own noses! The fact that the Deaf are one of the largest unreached people groups in America is testament to this notion. I want to challenge my readers to start today to bring missions to your homes. Start by telling your neighbors, your classmates, people in the store, people at work, about Jesus. Start a revival here in America that can only spread to the rest of the world!

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