Years ago, I was on staff with the Youth Department at a church in Temecula and I met a sweet girl who was in middle school, soon transitioning to high school, who regularly attended our Sunday service and mid-week Small Group Bible study. I remember spending time with her and learning of her parent’s divorce and her struggles with her unsaved and unsupportive father, and I also remember her enthusiasm while learning of THE Father’s love and desire for a relationship with her. Despite her earthly example of a father, she fell head first for Christ and it was amazing. Her relationship with Him was blossoming and soon grew rock-strong and her dreams and desires turned into a life of missionary work. Unfortunately, after a couple of years of getting to know her, our church went through a major split and our families ended up at different churches in town which, in turn, caused me to lose contact with her.
I thought of her often the years following and was thrilled to run into her one day in town. After hugging each other tightly and telling her how I’ve missed her, I asked what she had been up to since graduating high school a couple of years earlier, and what she was doing presently. She excitedly told me of a couple of mission trips she went on out of the country, but her smile quickly faded as she said, “I had these huge dreams of being a missionary and although I had the opportunity to go on a couple of mission trips, I thought I would be in full-time missions work in Africa by now! God hasn’t sent me and I am just attending Junior College.” She was discouraged. “Oh honey,” I responded, “that Junior College IS your mission field, don’t discount it. God has you right where He wants you. Let yourself be used where you are.”
Man, I can relate. Can you? I often wish I could be somewhere else serving God full-time in a BIG way. “If it wasn’t for this,” or “if it wasn’t for that,” I could be loving on the children at an orphanage in India, or be a missionary in South America. I could help refugees in the Middle East, the starving in Africa, or work to keep children out of the sex slave industry in Thailand. You know, the things that REALLY matter. Maybe your dream of serving is simpler: to serve at church or regularly visit at the old folk’s home in your community, but your present circumstances don’t even allow for that. How often do we become downcast or defeated, upset and even angry at our circumstances that disallow us to serve God the way WE want? How often do we ignore the mission field right in front of our faces?
In Mark 12:31, Jesus said there are no greater commandments than to love the Lord with everything you have and to love your neighbor as yourself. In Matthew 7:12, He said to do to others what we wish they would do for us. Proverbs 22:6 says to raise a child in the way they should go and even when they are old they will not depart from it. We’ve heard these verses a hundred times, right?
How many times have we heard of someone becoming saved because a friend invited them to church, or a co-worker explained their joy despite their circumstance as having to do with Jesus, or a neighbor showed them Christ while they were sick, a spouse giving their life to Christ because of a praying wife. Billy Graham is quoted as saying, “Of all the people I have ever known, my mother had the greatest influence on me.” Why? He explained, “She was a woman of God who gathered the family together frequently for devotions, to pray, to listen to Bible stories and to share a sense of the presence of God together.” Wow!
So I say, if you want to serve God in a BIG way, in a way that REALLY matters, look no further than your home, your neighborhood, your school, your job, your community. The mission field is right under your nose.