A missionary – 9 miles from home.

There are hundreds of opportunities to do God’s work right where you live. With more available resources, many Believers are taking trips to the far sides of the globe to teach kids, build churches, and share the good news of Jesus Christ in street outreaches. And that’s a good thing! Cross cultural short-term ministry in locations far from home can be exciting – exhilarating even. But, there’s a mission field right outside your front door! I ‘re-discovered’ that fact for myself yesterday.

I received a call from a woman requesting that I lead a memorial service for a man she loved for 31 years who had died last week. at a relatively young age of 55. At first, it seemed an odd request. The deceased man was a Buddhist! Initially I was inclined to refuse the request, but after listening to her, I felt compelled to do the service. I made certain she knew that I would speak of Jesus Christ and from the Bible. She said that would not be a problem. Arriving at the hall where there would be a brunch after remarks, I found a group of about 25 gathered. They listened quietly, politely, but without visible reaction, to the Scripture, the words, the prayers, and then I sat down, thinking to myself, “Why I am here? That surely didn’t go well!” I was at a table with four men, his buddies from work, all in their 50’s; men who showed the marks of labor, dressed in work clothes, whose words were rough despite their best efforts to honor the presence of the preacher at their table. As we ate, there was a strained silence for a time so I asked questions about their late friend. “What did he like to do? Tell me a story about him.” Gradually they opened up with recollections of the man. Then, out of the quiet, a man sitting at the table said, “I don’t hold much with religion. But, I guess he knows now what we’re all gonna find out sooner or later.” General agreement was mumbled and nodded all around and then they all looked at me! On reflection, I am not all that certain that I said anything all that profound, but when I stood to leave, they thanked me for coming to spend some time with them in their time of grief.

On my drive back home, I realized that I had just made a missions trip,’ though I’d only traveled 9 miles! I had, for a few moments, stepped into another world that exists virtually outside of my front door. I pray that something I said or did reflected the Light of my Savior to those who were living in spiritual darkness.

We must let ourselves think, even for a moment, that real needs exist only across an ocean or in a land far away. Spiritual needs and opportunities to love others in the name of our Lord are all around us.

Did you know that you could join a team and visit in a local jail for a Bible class and to be a friend once a week?
Did you realize that there are nursing homes that would welcome your presence an hour each week to read to someone, or even to conduct a worship service?
Did you know that Big Brothers and Big Sisters are always looking for volunteers to mentor a child?
Did you know that there are elderly people in our community who would consider a couple of hours a month to help with household maintenance a gift from Heaven?
Have you considered that the people at the lunch table at work might be your mission field?

“Come on, Jerry, my life is already full. I am busy.” I hear you! I am not interested in leading any guilt trips today. Perhaps you are already fully engaged in using your spiritual gifts (we all have them!) to accomplish God’s work. And yes, I know this too, we each have differing callings and opportunities. Just make sure you’re actually seeing the needs and stepping up in obedience to do what the Lord is asking you to do. Jesus led the disciples into the region of Samaria, to be among people that were ‘invisible’ to them. Then He challenged them as he would challenge you and me: “I’m telling you to open your eyes and take a good look at what’s right in front of you. These Samaritan fields are ripe. It’s harvest time! “The Harvester isn’t waiting. He’s taking his pay, gathering in this grain that’s ripe for eternal life. Now the Sower is arm in arm with the Harvester, triumphant.” (John 4:35-36, The Message)

Jesus told us that when God’s Spirit rested on us, the transformation of our lives would cause us to become living demonstrators of the Truth of His Gospel ‘in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’ Are you only seeing the need that exists far away? Don’t overlook your home town as a place to do God’s work. For most of us, it is our mission field!

Out in the highways and byways of life,
Many are weary and sad.
Carry the sunshine where darkness is rife,
Making the sorrowing glad.

Make me a blessing, Make me a blessing,
Out of my life may Jesus shine;
Make me a blessing, O Savior I pray,
Make me a blessing to someone today.

Tell the sweet story of Christ and His love;
Tell of His pow’r to forgive.
Others will trust Him if only you prove true
Every moment you live.

Give as ’twas given to you in your need;
Love as the Master loved you.
Be to the helpless a helper indeed;
Unto your mission be true.

Make me a blessing, Make me a blessing,
Out of my life may Jesus shine;
Make me a blessing, O Savior I pray,
Make me a blessing to someone today.

Ira Sankey © 1924. Renewed 1952 Word Music, Inc. (a div. of Word Music Group, Inc.) CCLI License No. 810055

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