‘Tis the season… For spring break mission trips! It seems like almost all of my friends have headed down to Mexico for this week to minister in different ways. One group is going to build a house, and another is working at an orphanage. And here I am, sitting at home. While everyone was leaving, I was really bummed that I couldn’t join them. I was able to go down to that orphanage a few years ago, and I would love to go back. Last year, I didn’t go with the house-building group, and I remember feeling really left out when everyone came home and had bonded and made new inside jokes that I didn’t get. Overall, this spring break was not looking very fun for me: sitting at home alone because all my friends are gone and then feeling even worse when they all get back. But then I got to thinking about it… What is it about mission trips that is so special? Is it the scenery? Maybe. The friendships formed? That’s part of it. But the real thing that makes mission trips so awesome is something that we don’t have to go to another country to do: share Jesus!
It’s easy to feel left out or feel like you’re making less of an impact than other people when they get to go to another country and serve, and you’re stuck at home. But you know what? That is simply not the case. Jesus never told us that we have to go to a country that we’re not from in order to shine his light. He just told us to go into all the world (Mark 16:15). Guess what? Where you’re from is part of the world, and he wants you to evangelize there, too! That’s not a perspective I think of often. Especially if you live in a small town like me, it’s easy to think that there’s no way for you to make an impact. But that’s not true either! There are more people than you might think out there who really have never heard the gospel. Maybe they’ve heard of Jesus, but they haven’t all heard the real good news or why Jesus is even important. And how are they ever going to know unless we tell them? My pastor has told us that he grew up in a big city with lots of people, went to public schools all his life, and never even heard the gospel until he was seventeen years old, and his friend in his computers class told him about Jesus. Isn’t that crazy to think about? We get in our bubble sometimes, I think. It’s easy to assume that the people who aren’t Christians are all just people who have heard the gospel and rejected it. But the truth is that while that may be the case for some people, there are still people out there in this world – even where you live! – who have never, ever heard about it. It’s up to us to tell them! The mission field isn’t limited to foreign countries. The mission field is wherever you are.
I’ve heard the phrase, “Preach the gospel at all times, and if necessary, use words.” I don’t think I agree with that entirely because a lifestyle in and of itself with no explanation given for it can’t present the gospel to people. But I do think it makes a good point. How we live our lives and what we put on display for the world are the things that are going to make people want to know what we have that they don’t. Our lifestyles themselves don’t preach the gospel, but they can draw people to us, which allows us to preach the gospel to them. In Philippians 2:15, Paul calls us “blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom [we] shine as lights in the world” (ESV). That’s encouraging in one way, but it’s also a call to action! We have to live our lives in that blameless way that Paul talks about. People judge Christ based on the Christians they know. If they see someone who says she’s a Christian but doesn’t live like a Christian, people will assume that all Christians are hypocrites. You see how that works? We have to actively make an effort to live our lives in ways that will push people toward Christ, not away from him.
Even if you are stuck at home alone while all of your friends are away on a mission trip, don’t feel like you can’t have the same impact they do! Your mission field isn’t just a foreign country. Your mission field is wherever you are. Get out there and shine brightly!
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Author: Hannah Bryant
Hannah Bryant is a worship-leading, cat-loving, pizza-eating redhead who doesn't take much seriously apart from her relationship with Jesus. She is currently finishing up her Bachelor of Arts degree in English Education at Southern Oregon University. You can finder her blogging at Redwood Seed, her personal blog. redwoodseed.com.