Missionary. When you hear that word, what do you think of? My guess is that most people picture someone in another country, probably a third world country, doing some kind of relief work or evangelism. I say this because I could say the same thing for me, until recently. However, God called me into something a little different when I said yes to mission service.
I walked into this call expecting to go somewhere overseas and fulfill this picture in my head of “missionary.” However, in spite of my plan, God made His own. I ended up entering into the GMF US-2 program, and was placed in Salt Lake City, Utah. It was a little hard to get excited at first, because people would ask me where I was headed and I could always see them deflate a bit when I told them I was going to Utah. It did not seem like quite the adventure, staying in the country for two years.
So where does missions in the US fit in to this definition we have of “missionary?” I think that if one really considers the concept, it’s a no brainer. We deal with issues of poverty right here in the US. Sure, it doesn’t look the same here as it does in the third world. I completely agree with that. But I have met hungry people: A father who was grieving that his daughter had to stay home from school because he had only been able to feed her tea and crackers for a week, homeless veterans, families who worked but couldn’t quite make ends meet. I have heard plenty of stories of communities in rural areas without access to clean water and medical care. And I know for a fact that there are plenty of Americans who need to know about Jesus.
In Acts 1, before He ascended to Heaven, He left His disciples with this:
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
A lot of people may see this as a call to go to the “ends of the earth.” I see it as that and so much more. I see a call to start right where you are and let God lead.
God calls missionaries from everywhere to everywhere. From Virginia to Salt Lake City, from North Carolina to the Philippines, from Arkansas to Miami, from Texas to South Korea…God has a bigger plan for our lives than we will ever know. He is moving in our communities in powerful ways no matter where we are. So whether you are called to Jerusalem or to the ends of the earth, God is already there waiting for you to join Him on an incredible adventure. I challenge you to rethink your definition of missionary. It becomes so much more powerful and beautiful when we realize its full potential.