“I won’t do it. I will NOT pray to be a missionary,” I thought defiantly, eyes closed, sitting in my class at church. The teacher was leading her small group through a prayer, asking the Holy Spirit to call us, even at this early age, to the spiritual battlegrounds of the mission field.
All I could picture were the jungle and wild animals. Surely this lady was asking us to pray for our deaths.
So, intently, even with head nodding, I repeated every word the teacher told us to say, all the while thinking, “No, God, I don’t actually mean this. Just pretend. We’re good, really. Right here is fine.”
Jonah’s story had obviously washed right over me.
Ironically, last week, I returned home from a week-long vision trip to the wild jungles of Scotland.
Acts 1 : 8
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you;
and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem,
in all Judea and Samaria,and to the ends of the earth.”
Years later, with stamps in my passport, a career working with international people, and married to a pastor, my understanding of “to the ends of the earth” has changed a bit.
Jesus’ command to go out into the world as His witnesses was directed to Jewish believers. When this point is emphasized, an obvious truth sticks out: I am the outsider, not the native, invited into God’s family through Christ.
As the outsider invited into Christ,
I have a new understanding of:
- God’s grace
Salvation has nothing to do with me, what I have done, or even my family line (John 1:12-13).
- Church history
Others have been called into the unknown in order to spread the Gospel. I have come to know and love Jesus because of the men and women who have come before me to share the Good News (Hebrews 11).
- The outsider in my culture
God commands the church to serve and protect those who do not have a voice in the world around me (1 Timothy 5).
- International Missions
Ministering in an international context is not about church/faith homogenization (1 Corinthians 8:12-13 as an example).
Christ is the model of the outsider coming into culture and sharing the truth of His kingdom with the world (Philippians 2:5-7).
Lord, thank You for Your undeserved grace and love for an outsider like me. Thank You for sending Your people around the world and back again for the sake of Your name.
Open my eyes, Lord, to the outsiders in my own community. I pray for courage to befriend, know, and serve them.
Challenge my understanding of international ministry. I pray for those who are serving as cultural outsiders for the sake of Your kingdom.