Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Are we all missionaries?

I read chapter 4 of Radical with mixed feelings. Yes, we in the church are at risk of elevating missionaries as the Chosen Few.  Yes, American Christians like to think of overseas missions as work for someone else.  Yes, we do not always do enough in the areas that we live.

But...

Why the emphasis from here, there, and everywhere to simply there?

Platt asks wonderful, soul-searching questions.  I have no doubt that many people will grapple with these issues and make changes in their life.  I was convicted but in a different way than the author might have intended.

You see, I've prayed about going in to missions in the past.  That wasn't the direction I received.  I feel very clearly called to serve here. This is not to the exclusion of there and everywhere.  It's not that the people of the United States have a special place in my heart.  This is where I live; therefore I interact with the people around me.  Do I do enough to proclaim Christ's name with my friends, family, and co-workers?  Well, there's always room for growth.

I am open to how God will use me.  I've been on a mission trip and hope to go on another one some day. I support missionaries financially and, when I remember, prayer.

But no, I don't think I'm supposed to go overseas.  At least, not right now.  It's not a matter of saving the work for someone else. Right now, I'm supposed to be a pediatric social worker in Nashville.  This couldn't be any clearer.

Here's where the rubber meets the road though.  Before I even moved, I prayed about what type of organization I could volunteer with, something in the community that would allow me to minister to others. Nashville has a lot of needs.  I don't think we can downplay the issues our country faces.  We may be the wealthiest nation but there is such disparity between the wealthy and poor that it is shameful.  While the temptation is to look at poverty in third-world counties, we cannot turn a blind eye to our neighbors.  That would be missing the point of Christ's direction altogether.

Even though I've kept an eye open, I haven't actively researched where I could volunteer.  I've lived here over 4 months now.  It's time for me to get started.  I have a few ideas and this week I'm going to start investigating them and seeing how my schedule and abilities match up.  You can hold me to it.

I am here to bring God glory. That is an important distinction to keep in mind.  It is too easy to focus on the "me" portion of my relationship with God.  It's not about me.  It's about God. "The message of biblical Christianity is 'God loves me so that I might make him- his ways, his salvation, his glory, and his greatness- known among all nations." (p. 70-1) The fact that He allows us to be a part of His plan is an awesome thing. The more I remember this, the more I will have a right view of myself in comparison.

So what's my role in the context of God's global purpose?  Right now, it's serving here and supporting others who are serving there and everywhere.  And always, always being open to how God might move me in a new and unexpected direction.

This post is part of the Radical Read-Along hosted by the fantastic Marla Taviano.

3 comments:

  1. i am so glad to find out i'm not alone in not being called overseas! i'm excited to see where you end up volunteering. :)

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  2. Thank you for this, Leigh. I totally agree that there are needs ALL around us in our own cities. I long to step up in Columbus and help WAY more than I am now. And I pray for others to join me!

    I still think we REALLY need to help those in other countries (primarily by sending $) though. Because if every Christian in my city helped their neighbor, everyone would be set. However, in Cambodia, no one's neighbor has any $ to help. They're all struggling to survive.

    We have SO much here. Plenty to go around to our neighbors and those around the world who have no one to help them.

    I'm with the first commenter. I'd love to hear more about where you decide to volunteer!

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  3. I will be sure to update everyone once the details are worked out on the volunteer front.

    Marla, I'm in complete agreement with you that we need to help those in other countries. I should have been more clear about that in this post. I'm committed to the work of World Vision, as well as supporting missionaries. Because that's not an issue for me and because I'm open to serving overseas if that's where I can best serve God, my focus for now is what I'm doing in my neighborhood, in my town, and in my state. I don't want to be someone that leaves missions up to "someone else."

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