Thursday, February 14, 2008

Missions, Local & International

Hello All,

I was making the internet rounds the other day when I saw an interesting blog entry on Blythe Hill's site. The blog was about how the world eats and how much money they eat on. I recommend that you check it out here.

It stirred my heart to read and to see how opulent a life we live as Americans. Here in the richest nation on Earth, both materially and spiritually, we often take our responsibilities for granted. Of course I know that there is rampant wickedness, and we (the USA) are not the Saviors of the world. The only hope for the world is Jesus Christ. But the highest concentration of believers in Jesus Christ, who have the freedom and resource to touch the world, also live in the U.S.A. And yet, it seems that the church in the United States at large has grown increasingly disinterested in International missions.

The reasons I have been given over the last few months are varied. The number one reason is the shift of interest in local missions and that is not bad, but it is different. It seems that just a few years ago, there was rabid interest in getting to some exotic foreign shore. Now, if there is interest in missions, it's much more localized, specifically centered in the US and on more social concerns.

Perhaps it's just a temporary shift in thinking, or maybe it's more systemic and indicative of the church's failure to heed the call to bless the nations. Is it that we have become so self-centered or self-interested, that we are failing to heed the call to both local AND international missions? Remember, Jesus included Judea, the disciples backyard, in the same commission as the "uttermost parts of the Earth!"

I pray that there would be balance, but that interest in World Missions would again be revived. I feel this way, mostly because I have a lot of wonderful friends who are overseas, who are fighting the good fight, like soldiers on a distant, and often truly hostile shore. They fight often alone, minimally armed or supported, but they fight nonetheless for the cause of Christ, as if they had all manner of support. Often, they are misunderstood or maligned because of language, cultural sensitivity and time barriers, which hinder the communication process, making them seem as though they are maverick spirits or disinterested in communication. Our American mindset then looks through the lens of success to see whether the missionary is "accomplishing anything."

Really, supporting overseas missions takes something that very few want to take the time to do: Carefully pursue and investigate. Relationship over statistics. Statistics make it easy to judge a man or his work, but relationship often yields the fruit of great appreciation and inspiration.

Don't get me wrong: I am all for local missions and local missionaries like the young lady who recently talked with me about her work in the corporate world, where she views herself as a missionary to corporate America. Bravo! For all those like her, I applaud and thank you for taking the opportunity that you have and redeeming it for the great name of Jesus.

But can I say, how much more appreciation do I have for the one who has left family, career, comfort and ease, for the frontlines of the faith, some in the very line of the hottest fires. I pray that we will not forget them or relegate them to our mission boards and walls, where they safely remain out of our mental or material reach.

Support your missionaries. Find out who they are, find out what they need, find out what you have that can bless their lives and encourage them in the fight.

Blessings...To Our Friends,
Frank Sanchez

2 comments:

jeffschaefer said...

great insight as always Frank! your post made me wonder about numbers, like the percentage of people out of the church body that actually go out into the mission field, both internationally and nationally(is that even a word because it looks funny to me). well i know for myself and diane, we both feel that God is pulling us into different type of missionary field, documenting. we obviously haven't been called out yet, but we can feel the preparation. which is an awesome feeling. well hope all is well, and talk to you soon.

Frank & Lela said...

Jeff,

There are some many ways to be involved "missionally," and the key is not the opportunity, it's those who are available to the opportunities that are there. I know you guys will do well.

Blessings,
F.S.