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From Your Neighborhood To the Nations

It’s really easy for me to forget how big the world really is. There are well over seven billion people across seven continents with over 300,000 babies born every day. More than half the total number of people in human history are alive as I am writing this!

Because I’m prone to forget, God constantly reminds me of not only how big He is but also the grandness of the world He has created. That is one of the things I love about being back in a movement where we have an “All Nations” mission mindset. Hearing the great news that is coming, literally from all over the world, keeps me in perspective and helps me have a global mindset, with a local focus. Something that my wife and I have missed over the years!

In God’s grand perspective, the two are not disconnected. My neighborhood is simply part of the nations, granted a small part, but still a part. When you think about it, we are really just one people group among thousands on earth, created by our Father God for His pleasure and glory. We are those “ends of the earth” people Jesus told the Apostles to reach in Acts 1:8!

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”Acts 1:8 (NIV)

By sending out the gospel message, by being on missions, and by making maturing disciples who plant churches, they really did reach us, from the other side of the world. Take that in for a moment! You are a disciple because the first century Christ followers followed their marching orders from Jesus and went on mission! Starting in their neighborhoods, and out to the nations!

So what about us? What is our role in His mission? How do we fit into bringing the good news to the nations? Are we all really supposed to be missionaries?

This is where a good many Christians get off track. We might like the thought of international missions but don’t feel any inclination, or calling toward becoming a missionary. Over time, we give international missions to only those with the desire to go anywhere and do anything (which is what we signed up for…right?). And here is where the problem lies:

God’s totally aware that most of us will put down roots into our home soil. He also knows that not everyone is called to be a church planter, whether internationally or in the next city over. In fact, I believe, along with church history, that missionaries are uniquely sent out by God, common people with a special calling.

But what does that mean for the rest of us? Well, it means nothing! Why? Because you ARE a missionary. Sure, you might not be called to go to Africa, Canada, or some other foreign country, but you are called to be a faithful and fruitful gospel witness wherever you call home, in your neighborhood. If you don’t see yourself uniquely invested in the global mission of God, you are not seeing things with a gospel perspective! Perhaps you’re being “choked out” by the comforts of your neighborhood (Matthew 13:22). Maybe you haven’t looked at a map in a while, or maybe you’ve simply forgotten the great cost upon which Jesus our King left His neighborhood (heaven) to pursue us personally in ours (earth).

“Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!”Philippians 2:6-8 (NIV)

As those who may be called to stay, here are four ways that, within our neighborhoods, we can involve ourselves in the global mission of God:

Pray – Begin praying this week. Make global missions prayer a major part of your prayer life. Pray for each nation to be reached, for the mission teams that we are sending out, and for the churches that have already been established. Pray for God’s work within specific countries and among specific people groups. And pray for the mission you are on in your own neighborhood!

Support – Come alongside those who have expressed a desire for the nations, a desire to be on mission for God in other places! Encourage, support, and pray for them. Spend time discipling them. Give financially to their mission! Arielle and I gave to the work in helping couples enroll in the International College of Christian Mission (ICCM), and to planting the Gainesville International Christian Church (GICC), and this was before we were members of the International Christian Churches!

Care – Consider caring for a missionary and their family overseas. Encourage them with spiritual books, Bibles, encouraging letters, and even financial gifts! Being on mission in a country that is not your own is hard work, and we need to provide support as much as we can. Ask yourself this question: How can I sacrifice for a missionary’s comfort? Do you see your plenty as being given to you for someone else’s needs? Ask God to lead you toward something specific.

Go – Go overseas in the next year. Consider a trip to one of the Missions Conferences that happen throughout the year, all over the world. Pray that God would put a specific location on your heart to go and help strengthen the church there! But most importantly, as missionaries to our neighborhoods, we must go into the nations, starting in our neighborhoods. Who knows, maybe you will meet someone who God has called to plant a church and make disciples in a part of the world that needs to hear the gospel of Jesus! And isn’t that “the ends of the earth.”

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