Thursday, January 9, 2014

Back-yard Mission Field

Not a month goes by that Sir Knight and I don't receive a request for financial or prayer support for a local young person or family seeking to be sent across the oceans to minister to the poor in some far-flung, third-world country.

Although we help when we are able, the thought has crossed my mind that this method of "ministry" may indeed have become the modern Christian feel-good method of traveling the globe on somebody else's dime.  I'm not entirely convinced that spreading the Gospel of Christ is the truly compelling force behind these "mission trips", but rather a desire to experience different cultures and feel good while doing it.

But, I digress.  In our Post-Christian country, I am constantly amazed at the ministry opportunities that present themselves in our own back yard and even sometimes, in our own kitchens.

Years ago, we lived in Bellevue, Washington.  Sir Knight was close to a family with three small children and after we married, I became quite attached to them as well.  That family grew until there were five children, two of which were close to our own children's ages.  Our families grew up, we moved across the mountains and, although we maintained our friendship, we rarely had an opportunity to visit our dear friends.

The older children stayed in touch with our family, Sir Knight having had a huge influence on the two boys.  One summer, the older boy, then about 25 years old, came to visit for a few days, bringing with him his live-in girlfriend.  Living in "Little Shouse on the Prairie", with limited space, we didn't have bedrooms to house extra people, so when our guests arrived, Sir Knight took "young man" aside and told him that he was welcome to sleep on the couch and that "girlfriend" was welcome to bunk with Maid Elizabeth in her room.  Young Man readily agreed that that was the best course of action and not another word was said on the subject.

Oh, we had fun!  We rode horses, made homemade pizza, swam in the lake and, of course, spent a number of hours sending bullets down-range.  Girlfriend helped milk the cow and tried her hand at making butter and often sat on the couch and just stared at us, commenting from time to time that she had never been around a family quite like ours.

One day, the guys were out of the house and Girlfriend, Maid Elizabeth and I were in the kitchen having a bit of tea.  I sat, visiting this pretty young woman and I looked at her and said "You know, you are worth more than living with.  You are precious and should be cherished. Young Man should be pursuing you and asking you for the honor of loving and protecting you all the days of your life - not moving his stuff into your house until he gets tired of you and moves on to the next pretty girl".

Girlfriends eyes grew large, with a single tear escaping down her cheek.  She looked at me and said "What makes me so special?"  And then, right there in my humble little kitchen, I had the opportunity to tell this sweet girl from Everett, Washington the story of her life.  I told her how God had knit her together, how He had thought of her before she was ever born.  I told her how she had been made in the very image of God.  I told her that God knew everything she had ever done and would ever do and how He had given His Son to die for her so that she could be reconciled to Him.  I told her that she was worth far more than rubies and that when she accepted Christ as her Savior, as her one and only, she would become the daughter of the King - and the daughter of the King was worth a very steep price indeed.

Girlfriend wept.  She asked questions after question, wanting to know her story from the very beginning.  This girl, who grew up in "Christian" America, had never, ever heard the Good News!  This girl, with the pierced tongue, met the Man with the pierced hands, in a shop in the middle of a windswept prairie.

Young Man and Girlfriend went home, split up and went their separate ways.  I have no idea if Girlfriend grew to know Jesus as her Savior, but I do know that the seeds of Truth were planted.  Young Man has gone on to another girlfriend (actually, many since then) and still is living his life for himself, but he will always find our door open to him - we love him and pray for him.

Yes, you can go to far-flung, exotic locations and spread the gospel of Christ, or you can open you door and plant seeds in your own back yard.


Therefore said he unto them, "The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few:  pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth laborers into his harvest".

Luke 10:2

25 comments:

  1. Sadly, this is how so many young people live today. Our beloved daughter was questioned as to why she and her fiancé were getting married when they had never lived together to see "if they could get along". Her response was that they thought it would be nice to get married and then live together! They have since celebrated their 17th anniversary and get along very well without the common "test run". It hurts me to see so many young woman who live with a young man, dreaming of a perfect marriage only to be discarded when he finds another young woman with a similar dream but is "new" to him. I also cringe to hear of couples who already have a child together who talk of saving money for their wedding as though a fancy wedding is the norm and having the child come after the marriage is not important. None of these people seem to think of the teachings of the Bible about marriage, probably because they have never been given a chance to know God and his teachings.

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  2. What a beautiful story, Enola. It is awesome that you took a very real opportunity to share the gospel with this young woman. That is what we are here for. Most people will never see a foreign land, some will never even leave their state of origin, but we can ALL share God's good news right where we find ourselves. First in our own homes with our own children, then in the communities where God has placed us, then wherever else we might find ourselves. We all live in a mission field.

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  3. THIS is true ministry. Most people have never heard the gospel and feel they are "too far gone." I also minister in my home to whomever the Lord puts in my path. I encourage you to continue to do the true work of Christ.

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  4. Your insights are always truly amazing. No wonder I look forward to your next blog. Thanks.

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  5. Enola,
    Thank you for this post. It has encouraged me to keep my eyes open for opportunities to share the love of Christ with those around me.
    In Him, Cricket

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  6. Amen and AMEN on both points. I am blessed to work in a secular profession (medical) where I have the opportunity to interact with people one on one every day. The Lord has given me so many ways to reach out to people without having to leave my hometown.
    I'm in no way downplaying overseas missions, but I see so many people (especially high school age kids) use these trips as a fun time, and their parents love to boast about how many countries Junior has visited. When asked for help to sponsor one adult in my community to the tune of $3000+ for a seven day trip to a not-so-distant country, I raised an eyebrow and offered prayer.

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  7. Amen!

    Those conversations are sometimes hard to have but the fruits of your labor are so worthwhile!

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  8. Enola,
    Great post! You did your part, now its up to GOD to deal with her. If she is one of his elect he will open her heart to your words at some point in her life and she will respond in faith. Salvation is of GOD not man! Soli Deo Gloria!!

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  9. I don't know how typical this is, but a fair percentage of the people I know (friends, family, coworkers and so on) look at religions of all types as they would the paranormal-sort of a realm-of-the-aether type thing that really doesn't have any application to their daily lives. If you start any sort of "preaching", you're looked at as if you'd just announced you're from a small planet around Betelgeuse. There are a few exceptions to this, but probably 80 percent fall into the "unsure" category. They're not rabid atheists or anything, just really not sure about it all-or assume that becoming Christian means "fun's over".

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  10. It's always bothered me that our local youth groups would go on summer mission trips to other towns in a distant state. There is so much we can be doing in our own back yards. What a wonderful story. I too look forward to reading your new posts as you always state so eloquently exactly how both my husband and I feel about our God and the downhill path of our country. God bless! Irene in MI

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  11. I agree.....I think its just become the "in" thing to do. There is so much that needs tending to here but that doesn't appear to carry the prestige. I guess its more Godly to travel all those miles to feed a hungry belly rather than the small child down the street....or assist an elderly person ... or...

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  12. I agree wholehearted with you, Enola, on your advice to the young woman. My husband and I had not lived perfect lives, but when we met and started dating, we both agreed that we did not think living together before marriage, or intimacy before marriage, was God's plan. We dated for two years and have now been married for 19. I can honestly say that we have nothing in our courtship to regret, nothing to say "I wish we hadn't" about. We were both living on our own but never even saw each other's bedrooms before we married! It was interesting to my husband to see the reactions of others who assumed that we were living together. When he simply stated that we weren't in a "practice marriage", he said that they suddenly seemed to treat him with somewhat more of a respectul attitude. (Unfortunately,one young woman I worked with, who boldly assumed we were being intimate, had the opposite reaction- she seemed to think that somehow I thought I was better than anyone else.)

    Lately many young people will live together and even have children without marrying, and tell you that they don't marry because they are too afraid of divorce. This to me makes no sense. They are afraid of betrayal so they don't want to make a committment. This is living your life in fear of what may never happen! Others think that by living together they will be less likely to be divorced later; sadly, the statistics show just the opposite.

    I also agree with you that America is quite a mission field. I am not advocating abandoning ministry to other nations, but it seems somewhat hypocritical to be out preaching to others with our serious problems here at home. It also seems to give a false idea of what "ministry" is. Ministry must happen in our own communities/states as well as in the other nations of the world.

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    1. They often say that they are committed but don't see any value in "a piece of paper". What that seems to mean is that one of them wants an easy escape from a relationship if it requires any effort.

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  13. "This girl, with the pierced tongue, met the Man with the pierced hands, in a shop in the middle of a windswept prairie." Dear Enola, sometimes your blog is truly inspired. Don't be discouraged by the naysayers or the anti-Christmas crowd. God bless you, dear.

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  14. "our Post-Christian country"... Yes, sadly that's where we are. Our Pastor frequently reminds us that God did (and does) so much with His 'remnants'.

    We have been trying to stay keen for opportunities to do God's will. Enola, your message was timely and truly welcomed.
    Montana Guy

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  15. Our church youth have two mission projects per year. One is to somewhere in the US where there is a need and the other to work locally to help where help is needed. They also serve the community at the church's Thanksgiving and Christmas meals--they are the servers to the homeless and those in the community (marginal) around the church. Our church is relatively prosperous but in an older, less affluent area. We all see people in need as we drive to church and have a number of projects for all in the church to minister to those who need our help.

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  16. I too have my doubts about many of these so-called 'mission trips'. I blindly supported a church in New England where their high school youth participated in mission trips each summer. That is until around 2002 when they chose Juarez, Mexico for their destination. Even back then no parent in their right mind would allow their child to go to Juarez. I expressed my concerns and was basically shunned. After all, "Where was my love?" Well I loved my child enough to say adiós to that 'church'.

    Yes Enola, there are plenty of people close to home who need help. Many will not ask for it. We are trying our best to stay keen and look for them.
    Montana Guy

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  17. My husband and I were youth pastors for awhile and now we are lead pastors of a small church in a small town. When we were youth pastors, we took our youth group of about 30 kids on a mission trip to our town. We painted the yellow lines down highway 101, built a wishing well fountain for the local senior center, hauled dirt and planted flowers at the local VFW hall, mowed grass, trimmed trees, and cut brush at a 98yr old's home, and cleaned homes and did yardwork and stacked firewood at various widows home's in the community. It was such a great time and so many of the community members were amazed that teens wanted to help. When we painted the highway lines, the road department supervisor and my husband worked together to close one lane of 101 and get all the supplies together etc. This was during the height of tourist season and 101 goes through the center of all the towns on the Oregon coast. It was quite a big deal. The supervisor only brought enough materials for one person to paint the lines because he didn't think any of the kids would show up. Boy was he surprised when more than 35 people were waiting to paint lines. The kids in that group were all from broken homes or no homes at all except for 2, our daughter and one little girl from our church lived in a home with happily married original parents. It has been more almost 10 years since that first mission trip and the kids (now grown) and adults are still talking about it. Although only 1 girl got to share the gospel with one elderly man (at the senior center), we still call it a success. That man was on his way out of this world, and now I believe his home is with Jesus. We have used this event as a model in every church we have pastored. It is so nice to minister to your own town.

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  18. God directs some overseas which doesn't negate the vital ministries needed at home. God directs most of us to reach out where we are. We do not need to disparage the first to encourage the latter. Or do we not truly believe that all we need is in God's hands?

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    1. God's blessings include discernment. I believe He expects us to use it. God is also the source of all truth. Surely He expects us to express what we believe to be the truth. Ah, but we encounter today's man-created political correctness. Our Pastor warns us that political correctness is most often directly contrary to Biblical teachings.
      Montana Guy

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  19. Beautiful story and wonderful advice on your part! Everyone should be valued and I hope her path has been a good one.

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  20. I love this story. My family can't afford to travel or do missions or whatever, but we try to make at least a small, but positive difference in our little community. The kids have gotten to where they anticipate what we'll be doing when they hear of a friend in the hospital or someone's having a baby or lost a husband, and get in there to help me.

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  21. I am most certainly not a christian, but I've studied the christian bible and it has long occurred to me that those who wish to evangelize would have their time best spent living "as a light" to their friends and neighbors.

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