As we’ve been considering the idea of a big move and as word has slowly gotten round, I’ve had a few responses of why? Why would you go there, when people here need Jesus? Don’t you have a heart for your own city and your own neighbors? It’s hurt my heart to hear this response, but I also fully understand it. I understand the reaction. I get it. But I also get this . . .
I teach a class called “Missions: God’s Heartbeat” at our Bible school. I LOVE teaching it. I love when the students get a revelation of going out. I love when the Great Commission gets firmly implanted into their hearts. It fires me up like nothing else on this planet. It tells me that I’m stirring something up, and it stirs me up!!
God’s heart is for every single person to get a revelation of Who HE truly is. And sure, He can and does work in people’s hearts. He gives dreams, He speaks through nature, He speaks through circumstance, but His main method is to use us to speak to others. And it’s not really speaking so much as loving. Being a presence in the lives of others that is faithful to just give and freely love. My husband is a natural evangelist simply because he doesn’t ever meet a stranger. Lately, at his office, he’s been a magnet that draws in those who are hungry for more. He’s readily available to answer questions about God, to deal with the issues that his co-workers have with God, and to just kindly speaking through his actions and his voice. He is sensitive to both the Holy Spirit and to those asking the questions. He’s able to respond to the heart behind the questions, and this type of witness that he has is what is so needed. We need people like him everywhere.
As Americans, we’ve been spoiled in that it’s easy to meet a Christian. It’s quite simple to find a church. Most of of us grew up with some kind of Christian influence (granted, with the younger generation this is not so true). Those of us living in the States have Christian radio, Christian bookshops, Christian campus ministries, and every kind of Christian outreach program that one could thing of available to us. However, this is not at all true outside of the U.S.; it obviously varies among countries. For example, one could live in South Korea where the Christian influence is quite large, and yet just across the border into North Korea, people are killed for even mentioning Christ. That covers the two extremes quite well, and on average (maybe) for first and second world nations, the spiritual climate falls somewhere in the middle of the two extremes. From our experience, as Mark is British and we’ve both lived in Britain, we know that the U.K. has great churches available. But the average person is not familiar with the things of God; they don’t know that He is truly alive and real. Each country in Europe varies, but the amount of Christians living there is much, much smaller than here. (Check out this link if you’d like more detail and note that only 2.5% of Europe’s population is made up of Evangelical (born again) Christians.)
So I’m saying all of that to say that my heart has always been for those who don’t have Christian resources readily available. According the the U.S. Center for World Mission, American Christians spend 95% of offerings on home-based ministry, 4.5% on cross-cultural efforts in already reached people groups, and .5% to reach the unreached. Um, hello?! As the wealthiest nation with the largest population of Christians, why are we not sowing our money into those who have less? Why is the American church stagnant and sputtering and shrinking . . . ?! Clue number one – if we would give more to those outside of us, we would reap more. (And please don’t argue with me on this unless you have researched this as much as I have; if you have, then I would love to hear your thoughts.)
And I’m totally getting off on a bunny trail . . .
Sometime between the ages of 5 and 12, I realized that my heart was one for going out to tell others about Jesus. I knew that in the depths of my being I wanted to be a missionary. I wanted to go to those who didn’t have what I had; I wanted to go to those who were lost. I wanted to reach those who weren’t reached. From my early days, my heart has never been to stay home. I know there are so many who would rather stay; they don’t have any inclination to leave the state or even the city where they were born. That’s just them, and that’s between them and the Lord. But for me, I am going. I want to go to wherever there is a need; wherever the resources are lacking is where I want to be. And I’ve never understood why we in the church would discourage that. If I can go and be a Christian presence living in a very in need of God society, where there aren’t many other Christians, then please let me go. If you have a heart for the U.S., then please stay here and be an active, full of the love of God presence in your community. Make a difference; be someone who draws people to Christ. Love your heart reach out to others. But as for me, my heart wants to go love on the lost in Europe. I want to see Europe brought of darkness and into light. I want it to experience a great spiritual Awakening; it has in the past. So it can again.
I have lots more to say, but I’m thinking that it would be better to just end this here. I’d rather say less than too much, and I’ve probably already said too much. I hope my words are accurately communicating my heart. We can easily be guilty of intellectualizing everything, including missions, and also be guilty of discouraging things that are quite basic commands in the Bible. To me, the Scripture that says, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” is still applicable. It’s just a matter of us being obedient. Don’t complicate things; just keep it simple.