Everyone has a different idea of what missions is. For some, we envision missionary Sunday at church where a family comes dressed up in classic African tribal clothing saying "Jambo!" For others, we think of Hudson Taylor who grew a pony tail to fit in with the Chinese or Jim Elliott who lost his life for the sake of the gospel. Whatever your view of missions is, let's look at God's word and work together to figure it out.
The typical thought of a missionary is someone who moves to another country to tell people about Jesus. They might have to learn the language, live in the jungle, translate the Bible into the native tongue, learn the culture, and find ways to teach the people about Jesus. That is what most people think of when it comes to a missionary.
I believe the root of missions is in the New Testament book of Acts. If you have never read the book I highly encourage you to do so. It is all about how the early church was started and how many of the disciples went on missionary journeys. It all starts in the first chapter; right before he ascended, Jesus said in Acts 1:8, "You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
My pastor, Ron Zappia, taught us years ago that this text shows how missions is not only overseas but Here, There, and Everywhere.
Here = Jerusalem was where they were located when the Holy Spirit came. It was their immediate surroundings. Their home base. For our family Here is Warrenville, it's our neighborhood, Bower Elementary School, Target, Starbucks, etc. Our immediate surroundings.
There = Judea and Samaria were areas that were not very far away from Jerusalem. They were the surrounding community around Jerusalem, Judea to the south and Samaria to the north. The circle of reach was getting larger. There includes the entire Chicago land area for our family. We were just downtown and saw many homeless and hurting. I often wonder how could our family help those who are in need and point them to Jesus?
Everywhere = The command to go to the ends of the earth. This was taking the gospel everywhere else. Everywhere is Croatia
Placing missions into these three headings of Here, There, and Everywhere has helped me shape a definition of missions for my life. Missions is not just going to another country and living in the jungle it's going Here, There, and Everywhere and pointing people to Jesus. It means that everyone who is a believer in Christ is a missionary. It doesn't matter if you are called to live Here, or live There, or live Everywhere our job is all the same; be a witness of Jesus Christ to everyone.
I have been reflecting on this a lot after we have made the announcement that we are moving overseas. It seems ridiculous to only live like a missionary if/when we go overseas. So we have made it our goal as a family to live like missionaries while living Here before we live Everywhere.
Here are a few intentional ways to live like a missionary and find ways to be a witness Here:
1. Stay outside in the front yard longer while watering the yard
2. Walk your dog regularly around the same time in your neighborhood
3. Sit on the front porch and letting kids play in the front yard
4. Pass out baked goods (fresh bread, cookies, brownies, etc.)
5. Invite neighbors over for dinner
6. Attend and participate in HOA functions
7. Attend the parties invited to by neighbors
8. Do a food drive or coat drive in winter and get neighbors involved
9. Have a game night (yard games outside, or board games inside)
10. Art swap night – bring out what you’re tired of and trade with neighbors
11. Grow a garden and give out extra produce to neighbors
12. Have an Easter egg hunt on your block and invite neighbors use their front yards
13. Start a weekly open meal night in your home
14. Do a summer BBQ every Friday night and invite others to contribute
15. Create a block/ street email and phone contact list for safety
16. Host a sports game watching party
17. Host a coffee and dessert night
18. Organize and host a ladies artistic creation night
19. Organize a tasting tour on your street (everyone sets up food and table on front porch)
20. Host a movie night and discussion afterwards
21. Start a walking/running group in the neighborhood
22. Start hosting a play date weekly for other stay at home parents
23. Organize a carpool for your neighborhood to help save gas
24. Volunteer to coach a local little league sports team
25. Have a front yard ice cream party in the summer
(Credit for this list goes to a blog that is all about being missionaries wherever you live. Check it out).
Will you join us as we embark on being missionaries Here before we become missionaries Everywhere? We are going to pick something from the list, try it, and see what happens. Who's in?