(Making Disciples too)
“If you are not going to a foreign country, you are not doing missions.”
“But what if I’m not called to go to a foreign country?”
“Mr. Faulkner, the bible says “go” does it not?”
This is how I imagine a conversation would go between some of my peers and I had I explained the view I hold of missions. Especially at a college that highly encourages global missions and even, in some cases, elevates those who go. In this atmosphere it would be hard to explain a view of missions that does not require a person to go to Africa or South America. Now, I fully support those who go to foreign countries, I love the fact that people are so passionate about their faith that they would raise thousands of dollars and go to a foreign country. I think it is really good for college students, but we have to acknowledge that not all of us are going to go, not all of us are called to go, at least by the definition of go that means: “Go to this foreign country and be a missionary, it will change your life.”
I mean, look at me, the only country I have ever been to outside the US is Canada, and that was as a tourist. I was not called to go there; I went there to eat a Cheeseburger with my dad’s side of the family and to see Niagara Falls. How selfish of me I know, where there are unbelievers in Canada.
One of the guys I mentor was recently asked: “How are you not called to go?” Easy, he is not, at least not to a foreign country. This particular young man is being trained to teach a Sunday School Class, has the potential to be an incredible mentor and teacher himself, and is starting to realize that potential. He is blooming where he is planted, encouraging others to be godly men and women, seeking to be a godly man himself. His vibrant faith draws others in, his personality encourages others, yet he knows at this point in his life that he is not called to go into all the world.
Getting Hung up on the World
Here’s what I think the problem is: So often we get caught up in the “Go therefore into all the world” bit of Jesus, Great Commission in Mark 16:18 or the “Go” at the beginning of Matthew 28:19 and leave off the second part of both verses. “Making Disciples of all men” says Mark, “Go and Make disciples of all the nations” Says Matthew. Somewhere in translation we lost the fact that when Jesus said “All the World” he was not just simply referring to the places we were not, but the places we are as well. When He said “Making Disciples” He meant “Make disciples everywhere you are.”
If we are caught up on the “world” aspect of the great commission then “Go” must mean go into the world. No need to take care of your home front, no need to minister to your neighbor, unless they are your neighbor in a foreign country.
On one of our city walks in Denver Jeff showed us a house that was owned by two “Mega” evangelists. The home was in disrepair, the yard looked like a junk yard, the home was in the middle of a fairly nice neighborhood, but looked terrible. The family had been asked by their neighbors to clean up the yard but they refused, why should they? they were called to go out into the world. We were asked to consider how this made Christians look? our answer was “pretty bad.”
All too often those who are called to world missions neglect the home front. Then look down on those who are called to stay on the home front, the ones who are called to train those who are going out into the field. I once heard someone say: “He’s not going on a missions trip, he just is not close enough to God.” This is a devastating statement to hear, as a man who has devoted his life to building up and discipling others, this attitude saddens me.
“Going” without “Going”
My philosophy of missions is this; we are not all called to go abroad, but we are all called to do something. What do I mean? Right now I am not called to go overseas, I know this, but I am called to disciple, to witness, to share my faith and my story with those around me. I am called to be a witness, a teacher, an exhorter, a man of God. Does this make what I do any less important compared to what the person who goes out into the world does? No, it just means my calling is different from their calling. If everyone was out in the missions field who would stay home and bring up the next generation of missionaries? Would we leave our country to those we trained up? We could, I have been very blessed by foreign missionaries coming here. Yet I firmly believe that we have a responsibility to every single person we encounter, including our neighbors when we are home, to help them grow and know the Lord more.
Angus Buchan, the great African preacher, is considered a missionary, yet his ministry barely reached out of South Africa. He took care of the people around him, taught them the gospel, cared for their needs, both spiritually and physically when he could.
Jesus was both, Paul did the same.
If you look at the life of Jesus, Mark 1 being an excellent example of this, we find Jesus did both. Jesus preached and taught, but he also had disciples. He traveled all the way to Philippi to minister and disciple. Paul did the same thing, ministered, established a church and then left people there he had been training to minister and continue the growth of the church. Timothy is probably the best known, but there is also John Mark, Titus, Epaphraditus and many others.
Jesus left the disciples with the great commission, a call to make disciples wherever we go, wherever we are called to go.
Now I am not trying to put down those who are going out into the world. I am trying to point out that there is a need for those who go and a need for those who stay. Those who stay are where they are called, just as you are going where you are called. I am called to work for Sterling College, to educate, train, make disciples and take care of the grounds. To be a light and a witness to those students who do not know Christ. That is my calling right now, so that is what I will do. We all have an important task in the body, but not all of us are the hands, some of us have other functions that are vital to the body being healthy.
So let us go where we are called, even if “go” only means crossing the street.