Thursday, March 24, 2011

Thoughts on Mission Work

With summer around the corner, I have been thinking a lot about missions. The bible tells us we are all called to be missionaries, making disciples, baptizing and teaching in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19-20). But obviously, we are not all called to drop everything, sell our possessions and move to a different continent. After some pondering, I have observed and categorized three types of missionaries: Home Missionaries, Short-term Missionaries, and Overseas Missionaries.

Home missionaries are the most obscure of the three categories. They are called to minister amidst the hustle and bustle of everyday life to the people God has placed around them whether that is co-workers, children or the people at the grocery store. Sometimes the busyness of life causes them to forget they are just as much Christ's hands and feet as their brothers and sisters half a world away.

Short-term missionaries are just as important as home missionaries. They are responsible for bringing refreshment and encouragement to the overseas missionaries as well as sharing Christ with the lost through meeting people's physical, emotional and spiritual needs. This may entail working physically building churches, digging wells, or repairing houses. Or it might mean doing puppet shows, playing with children, and simply loving on people.

Overseas missionaries are what we think of when we hear the word "missionary." The ones who leave behind family and friends and all that is familiar to take the gospel to the nations. They face huge difficulties such as language barriers, culture shock, and facing life without the support of their family and close friends. They are in the trenches 24/7 fighting at the front lines for the sake of the gospel. Overseas missionaries are a huge part of bringing the nations to a knowledge of Christ.

All these types are equally important, but I would venture to say they are not equally difficult. The easiest task falls to the short-term missionaries. They travel somewhere unfamiliar, help out for 1-2 weeks, then return to home and comfort. Being an overseas missionary on the other hand has many daunting challenges and these people should not be taken for granted. But in my opinion, it is the home missionary who has the hardest task.

There are three reasons I think the home missionary has the hardest task. First, like the overseas misionary, they are "on the job" 24/7. There are no breaks and the drudgery of everday life can drag them down and distract them from their lofty purpose--sharing Christ. Second, Americans are hard to evangelize because they are extremely priveleged and because over-exposure to the gospel has caused them to become callous to it. Finally, being a home-missionary is also hard because it is often a job of obscurity. Since home missionaries are not usually thought of as "real missionaries" they are easy to overlook. We are all called to be missionaries. The question is: which one are you?