I remember the first time I met a missionary. I was about six or seven years old and she had returned from four years in Kenya. During the morning service she invited all the children to the front of the church and gave us each a small 45 rpm record. (This was advanced technology at the time.) The album featured a children’s choir in Uganda and she encouraged us as children to pray for other children around the world. The moment made a big impact on me and that 45 rpm record now hangs on the wall in my office.
When I was younger I thought of my country as a ‘Christian country’ and other countries as needing the gospel. It was our job to send missionaries to other nations. But, cross-cultural misisons isn’t just one way. I now understand that the ministry of sharing the gospel goes in multiple directions. We are a world of senders and receivers who are crisscrossing the globe. In our Western world these days we see a decline in Christian worship and life. Thankfully, there are many people from other parts of the world coming to share the good news with those who have forgotten about it.
Jesus was clear in his command when he said “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19-20) The history of the church is one of advancing the cause of Jesus through missionary work and acts of compassion.
Supporting missions, missionaries, and gospel ministries is a humbling thing. We get to be involved in the greatest work there is. Not all people are called to go and live in a different country but we can all see the value of it and we can pray for it. We all have a role to play. Even children are able to catch the vision and see the importance of this work. When we lose sight of the importance of sharing the gospel, either at home or abroad, we have lost sight of the vision of the kingdom.