Friday, April 11, 2014

From Everywhere to Everywhere

Certain concepts fall into your mind somehow and get stuck there. You think them for a long time without questioning them until a great class, scripture or a sermon pushes you to be more thoughtful or more nuanced.

For me, the idea that missions is not just from "us" to "them" is one of these ideas. It is the idea that missions is not just a "first world" to a "two-thirds world" project or only in poor places. To paraphrase John Piper in Let the Nations Be Glad, missions isn't about being right or wrong, it is about worship. Missions happens because worship does not. Because there are and continue to be places on the planet where the worship of God does not happen, where people have yet to hear of the wonderful love of Christ that cleanses sin and removes shame.

Because of this, the older mindset of "from the West to the rest" is not valid. There are mission fields all around us the require stepping out cross-culturally or across community borders. Missions is truly a "from everywhere to everywhere" endeavor. It is about reciprocity and learning from one another. It is the humility to say, "my cultural expressions of the christian faith can be enriched as I interact with those that see things differently."

One quick example of this.

Our church here in Austria has been around for a little while. They have had a great deal of influence from missionaries over the years, many from our own team and organization. This Sunday, they were preparing to send out a short term team to eastern Europe. This is one of many short term trips they send out as well as supporting many long term missionaries.

I don't mean to just brag about our church here, but I think it illustrates the point. Even as they are receiving missionaries, they are also sending people out. It isn't about one-way relationships. No matter how small or large a church is, there is a benefit from not just engaging in missions from a "sender" perspective, but also from the "receiver" perspective. There is a humility that is connected with saying, "I have something to learn from you as much as you can learn from me."

So if you think of it this week, pray for the students from our church that are on this trip.