From time to time I hear people say, “Why would you send people all over the world? Aren’t there ‘lost’ and ‘needy’ people here at home?” I’ve even been accused of arrogance in attempting to ‘help’ other places in the world when our own “backyard” has so many needs. I’ve heard some pastors say that doing stuff overseas is a way to coverup what we’re ‘not’ doing at home.
I can understand, in part, some of these objections. We are VERY committed to blessing our city first with the Gospel and its benefits. However, we believe that, from the beginning, each church is to be involved not only with its local area, but with the world. It is what Jesus told His disciples in Acts 1:8–start in their hometown of Jerusalem, but go on to the ends of the earth. As Acts demonstrates for us, these places were not to be ‘subsequent’ assignments–they were not to wait till Jerusalem was won entirely, but to, from the beginning, go to the nations of the earth.
I was reading recently in William Carey’s (first “modern” missionary and father of the evangelical mission movement) famous Enquiry and noted how that objection was raised to him back in in the late 1700’s when he left England to go to India.
He said, “That there are thousands in our own land as far from God as possible, I readily grant, and that this ought to excite us tenfold in our work among them… is a certain fact; but that it ought to supercede all attempts to spread the Gospel in foreign parts is (a non-sequitir). Our own countrymen have the means of grace, and may attend on the word preached if they choose to. They have the means of knowing the truth, and faithful ministers are placed in almost every part of the land, whose spheres of action might be extended if their own congregations were more zealous in the cause. But with the foreign nations the case is wholly different, who have no Bible, no written language (which many of them have not), no ministers… many have not good civil governments (which allow them freedom to hear.)… Pity then, humanity, and much more Christianity, call loudly for every possible exertion to introduce the Gospel amongst them.”
We believe each New Testament Christian will have, as a part of his DNA, ministry
to the nations. While he labors in the field God has given him (perhaps
a local one), he will be involved in some way with the nations. Each of our Summit Life Groups is encouraged to have a missionary from our church that they adopt and support and pray for and that they plan to go and see on a short term trip. We encourage each member, immediately when they join, to get their passport, so that they are ready to go.
As I once heard Tony Campolo say, “Here we are needed. Over there we are irreplacable.” (Admittedly this is a bit of an overstatement but I think you understand the intent.)
A Christian without a view of the world and God’s glory going to the nations is not a New Testament disciple. As my friend Ed Stetzer says, “God is a sending God, and those who see Him live as those who are sent.”