I spent a while today putting the finishing touches on my support letters (coming to a mailbox near you). As I wrote out what I hoped would be sufficient reasoning for people to support me, I realized what an odd thing it was for someone my age who has been immersed in ministry and "church culture" for most of my life to never been on a mission trip outside of the United States. It's commonplace nowadays for youth groups to take week-long trips to Mexico or the Domincan Republic. And if you missed the boat before heading to college, almost all campus ministries offer 2 week, spring break, and/or summer trips to exotic mission locales in mission-dom.
In college, as a part of a campus ministry, I had endless opportunities to go overseas. To be honest, the main thing that kept me from pursuing said opportunities was the unspoken air of Christian-elitism attached with going on mission trips. It was subtely implied that true and total obedience for every believer began and ended with going overseas. I knew this not to be the case by the countless men and women who supported missions (through both prayer and financial support) but never went themselves.
What I've learned since are two important truths about mission involvement that drive my upcoming trip.
First, absolutely every Christian is called to missions. This seems like an strong statement, but let me explain. You are called to missions in being both the sender or the goer. It's clear in Paul's letters that the churches he'd help plant and pastor continued to support his mission endeavors. On the other hand, there was a small collection of people who traveled with and supported Paul in his travels as well. But all followers of Christ, we are biblically called to both. Why? That leads us to the second truth.
Missions is not a location or destination, it's the natural product of discipleship. To follow Jesus is to submit to the mission of Jesus to make disciples of all nations. This is true in Kentucky and Kenya, India and Indiana. To pursue overseas missions to the ignorance of the mission God has called you to across the street, in your workplace, and in your own home is an act of disobedience. We must surrender to the call of missions as an act of becoming like Jesus wherever we are.
We are called to both send missionaries and be missionaries wherever we are. Making disciples of all nations is the very purpose of God's redemptive body in the world, the Church. It's our joy and passion to pursue this mission with all of our hearts.
More to come soon.