An “Overseas” Missionary At Home
In the early days of our Church history, there were many who felt that, as a Church, we had no need of going beyond our own territory to share the three angels’ messages. Evangelizing in our own cities and communities was deemed sufficient. When the first conference (Michigan Conference) was organized in 1861, and then the General Conference in 1863, there was still no decisive plan of carrying the gospel to every nation, tongue, and people. Yet slowly the realization grew that the special message that God had given to His people had to be taken to all the world.
It was eight years later that John N. Andrews was commissioned by the General Conference and officially sent to Europe as our first overseas missionary. Since that time literally thousands have traveled the globe with a resolute commitment to share the message of Jesus. However, it is not just people from North America who are going to other countries to impact communities of people. Today, people from virtually every division of the church are crossing borders with a passion and determination to make a difference for the kingdom of heaven.
As church members, we have always loved to hear the reports of returned missionaries or of those who have come back from a short overseas mission trip. Knowing that progress is being made and that miracles of transformation are being witnessed, all bring joy to our hearts. We are grateful for those who are willing to go and serve others, often at great personal sacrifice. Today the challenges are endless and literally hundreds of needs and projects cry out for support. Many of us give our offerings and are thankful that we can participate to make a difference on a global perspective.
Yet the reality today is that the world is coming to us! We have immigrants and refugees who are coming from all parts of the world and they are now our neighbors! What the missionary might have done for them in their city or village, is now something we can do—without leaving town! They are now our responsibility. No offering collection is required for me to show compassion and kindness. God is calling for us to be missionaries in our own “back yard.”
I’m reminded of the song popularized by Sandi Patty: “Love in any language, Straight from the heart, Pulls us all together, Never apart. And once we learn to speak it, All the world will hear, Love in any language, Fluently spoken here.” Today you don’t need to cross the ocean to be a foreign missionary. You can make global impact as you find meaningful ways to meet needs and minister to the family that came across the ocean but who now lives in your community. Who knows but that God brought them to you so that they might have an opportunity to learn of Jesus!