Missions: Kicking at the Stereotypes

by Bob Gerow

I grew up in a time when "missions" was about young pioneers with large families boarding a steamboat to nowhere. It took a month to get where you were going. It took weeks, maybe months, for the mail to get through. It was about going where nobody had ever gone before.

When returning to the U.S. on furlough, things were so very different! The missionary couple couldn't quite make the connection between what they now experienced, and the copy of Future Shock the well-meaning folks in the home office had urged them to read. They-including their now-five-years-older children-were a family without a place to call home.

"Missions," we seem to think, is about pith helmets, clothing out of a barrel, awkward children, and exciting stories of lions and danger-filled rivers. There are, after all, only two kinds of people in God's Kingdom. We either go or we send. "Going" is for young pioneers with large families. "Sending" is for us-our way of "sharing" the Good News with poor benighted souls in some faraway place. "Missions" is about getting the gospel to them.

Time for a reality check!

First, it's not primarily about "going" or "sending," but about what it means to be a Christ-bearer. When Christ gave His commission to the twelve, we have to remember that twelve was all he had. He was talking to the whole of His fledgling Body! Thanks to their obedience, the Body is much larger now, but Christ's command is still for the whole Body. None of us has an exemption. It is our calling to be Christ-bearers, and to make disciples as we go.

Consequently, it's not about pith helmets and danger-filled rivers, but about the fellow in the turban at the corner gas station. If we but open our eyes, we cannot help but see that the neighborhood and community in which we live is in need of Good News. Since you are the only one that is where you are, it falls to you to bear the Good News into their hearing!

Nor is it about "surrendering your life for full-time service," but about every individual believer's calling to be salt and light, a witness of the grace of God toward sinners. (Pssst! You're a sinner, too!). If you are in Christ, discipleship, like disciple-making IS full time by definition.

Once we get that reality clear in our hearts, a whole new range of opportunities comes into view. We begin to see new ways to deepen understanding of the world around us. We begin to pursue ways to fulfill our calling that we might never have considered before; Such as:

Read missionary biographies (then give the book(s) to the church library for others to read.)

Develop a partnership and/or dialog with a current or retired missionary.

Befriend someone from another culture.

Participate in a short-term ministry trip.

Pray regularly and fervently to the Lord of the harvest about His plans for your life!

Study the demographics of your own community, and participate in cultural fairs and exchanges. (If there aren't any, organize one for your community!)

Host an international student in your home.

Organize a missions conference or missions emphasis week at your church.

Sponsor a gospel message that will appear in a newspaper or magazine as a paid advertisement.

Provide nourishing food, medical care when needed, clothing, a good education, and Bible instruction through sponsorship of a child overseas.

Establish "Missions Moments"-five minutes of every Sunday morning service to share a missions-related prayer item or a missions report.

Through sponsorship, provide for the ministry and care of a national believer who has been called into the gospel ministry.

Your church, Sunday school, or other church group can help underwrite the ministry of the gospel worldwide through prayerful giving to AMG and/or another missions organization.

Schedule an AMG representative or a missionary to be part of your missions conference, for special meetings, or for a presentation to your small group.

We have our orders. Let's begin making a difference today.

Bob Gerow is development administrator for AMG International.

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