Why So Much Effort to Minister to People in Other Lands?2
A question was submitted to us on social media while we were on our most recent missionary trip to Guatemala. The essence of the question was this: why can’t we as Americans take care of our own country first when we have homeless and needy people right here? Why do we exercise such effort to minister to the people in other lands when others don't necessarily spend those sums ministering to us?
First of all, I'd like to make it clear that I really do appreciate the question and here's my answer. Jesus, after his resurrection, gave us our marching orders. We call it the Great Commission. On resurrection day he spoke to the disciples in the upper room and said this:
Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. (John 20:21)
The following week, again in the upper room, He added:
...Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. (Mark 16:15).
In Matthew 28:19-20 on a mountain in Galilee he told his own disciples that they were in turn to make disciples, baptism them, and teach them. As Jesus ascended into Heaven from the Mount of Olives, these were his parting words:
But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. (Acts 1:8)
Ten days later on the day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit came to indwell and empower the believers to fulfill that very command. These injunctions laid upon us by Christ himself are not optional. Christians are called to witness, and at Riverview, we take the obligation to carrying out this Great Commission very seriously - as we should.
Locally, we set aside funds each year to help our community. We support the local Christian mission and food bank, the Bible Bus, and Gideons International. We have had coat drives for needy families and last year we held a Christmas bazaar so children and families could have something for Christmas. We engaged in summer feeding programs, and just recently we helped feed the homeless. While we do these things, we share the Gospel. Our minsitry begins here at home. This is our Jerusalem.
However, the Lord commanded that we go beyond our "Jerusalem" to the ends of the earth. Thus, we are happy to report that we support forty plus missions and missionaries both at home and abroad, and have had literally hundreds of our church family to go throughout the world as well. This year alone teams and individuals have been, are now, and will be in: Barstow, California, the Philippines, Bangladesh, Guatemala (twice), Guam, Haiti, Costa Rica, Uganda, Belarus and Kazakhstan. Why do we do all these things? Because we love people and we wish to demonstrate the love of God to all. More than that, though, we do it because we are commanded to. It is our responsibility.
Again, we are grateful for the question and the opportunity to respond that it has provided us.
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