As a Director of Missions, I’m often asked the question, “Why should we engage in missions in other parts of the country and world when we have so many needs at home?” Maybe you’ve been asked that question. Maybe you’ve asked that question. Let me just say that I love this question. Because it gives me an opportunity to talk about God’s love for the whole world, not just my little part of it.
As I think about ways to respond to this question, I often think about verses like Psalm 96:1-3: “Oh sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD, all the earth! Sing to the LORD, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples!”
I think about verses like John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
I think about verses like Revelation 7:9-10: “After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”
I think about verses like Romans 10:13-17: “For ‘everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, ‘Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?’ So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”
I think about verses like John 20:21: “Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.’”
I think about verses like Luke 24:47: “Repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.”
I think about verses like Matthew 28:18-20: “Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’”
But if I only have time to share one verse, I usually respond with Acts 1:8: “But 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.”
In this one verse, Jesus provides the church with our “missions roadmap.” In other words, we are to be His witnesses here (locally), there (state & North America), and everywhere (all nations). Notice that Jesus did not say that we are to be His witnesses in Jerusalem or Judea or Samaria or the ends of the earth. No, He didn’t say or; He said and.
Which means that the answer to the question as to why we should engage in missions at home and in other parts of the country and world is because Jesus has commanded us to do so. It’s not either/or; it’s both/and.
Besides, if God so loved the world, His church should too.
Photo courtesy of the International Mission Board: https://www.imb.org/photos/?p=15009