For the Love of Humanity
MissionFest in Winnipeg was alive with hundreds of people who, like me, moved from booth to booth to learn more about the needs of the world. I tried zoning out the noise of the crowd as I squinted to read posters of a particular mission being represented.
I glanced up to put a face to the cheerful voice interrupting my concentration.
“Have you ever been there?”
“To Asia?” I queried. “No, actually I haven’t.”
“Oooh! You should definitely go! It’s an awesome place to go! So many cool mission opportunities! I want to get in as many mission trips as possible in my life!! Have you been on the mission field? Honestly, I don’t think you can claim to be a Christian if you don’t have a heart for missions! Where have you been? Which country has God called you to?”
On and on she rambled…and my mind wandered to the opportunities God has given me to minister. Some overseas, yes, but many at my fingertips.
I had never met this girl before, but since she seemed interested, I began sharing my understanding of missions with her.
God graciously gave me two overseas missional opportunities, but I wasn’t banging down the doors of heaven asking for more.
Because I don’t believe reaching the world is contingent on crossing the ocean. I told her my heart longs to see souls saved from every tribe, tongue, and nation on earth, but with teaching and ministry commitments at home, I’m not planning to go on another short-term mission trip anytime in the near future.
The look of sheer disturbance on her face made it clear that she thought I had no vision, no passion, no spiritual depth, and was not worth another minute of her valuable time.
MissionFest 2017 closed. The booths were packed up. “The girl” went back to her life, and I went home to mine. On the surface, things returned to some semblance of normalcy, but my mind was caught in a web of heart-searching questions and insecurities.
How did she have the ability to make me feel like I’m not doing anything with my life?
My world is filled with unique opportunities and a myriad of people presenting endless opportunities to minister Jesus, yet she made it seem like I didn’t do a solitary thing to contribute to the salvation of mankind.
Then a ray of truth shone into the confusion. It was the same foundational truth God pounded into me through many failures, tears, and self-consumed months of struggling against what seemed to be a prison He had placed me into: the joy-filled truth that it is not as much about fruitfulness as it is about faithfulness.
Two years prior I had left my secure background, my family, and everything I knew with a heart full of dreams and ambitions to take the gospel to the unreached of the world. My life couldn’t be more of a contrast from what I had envisioned; I moved in with a young family to be a help to them and to receive the much-needed spiritual stability they offered. All my aspirations had to be surrendered. Instead of being on center stage converting the world, I was sitting behind the scenes teaching a little boy with an autism spectrum disorder. Fast-forward two more years and it appeared not much has changed. I wondered if this is okay, and my mind went back to the stories of Scripture.
There are numerous accounts of Christians in the New Testament churches who stayed behind the scenes. They spent their days serving, giving, establishing, and supporting but were equally as valued as the Peters and Pauls.
Can we pick up this consuming desire to see all humanity come to know the Lord Jesus Christ while living in everyday life?
The answer is a profound and exciting yes—if instead of pining away for the opportunities we want, we look past our good and seemingly godly ambitions, past our noble dreams, and really see the lost around us.
People are perishing. The love of Jesus compels us to be His hands and feet wherever He leads us. Across oceans and continents, or in the mundane of our same old surroundings and environments.
Trust me, if we reach into the world that surrounds us, the world outside our secure churches, out of our comfort zone and into those places that are easier to pretend don’t exist, we will find innumerable opportunities to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, care for the widows and the fatherless, to proclaim righteousness, to hold the hands of the scared, the vulnerable, and the hopeless. We will witness the extraordinary, miraculous grace Jesus provides to open the eyes of the spiritually blind, even on the street corners in our own town!
God is much more concerned about us not wasting our lives than we are, or ever could be. Of this, I am assured, and therefore I can trust His guidance completely.
There is one overarching element that has helped me maintain a global perspective through the times when I’ve struggled with being at home: humility.
Humility looks with genuine interest at others’ lives and involves itself in their joys, triumphs, and tears. Humility loves the unlovable because it recognizes the raw truth of one’s own unlovability without the transforming power of Jesus. Humility gives. Endlessly. Because it sees the reality of being a servant to all.
Really, what is the difference between the damaged, insecure child showing up at our church steps, the homeless man or woman scarred by addictions, the sin-sick teens straggling into our local soup kitchen, or the thousands of unreached people who bow down to wood and stone? Aren’t they all equally floundering in darkness? Don’t they all need someone to love them?
Are they not all in need of a Carrier of Light to enter their world with the message that will break sin’s bondages, change their hearts, and lead them to the Kingdom of God?
Our vision for the world begins with having a Christ-like heart of compassion that enables us to reach out within our homes and beyond the confines of our own front doors.
After all, the goal is to live Jesus.
No matter where.