I hear it all the time.
“It’s a waste of time and money to travel to a far-off country to do missions projects.”
“We will do more harm than good if we drop into a place for two weeks, feed the homeless and love on the orphans, then leave again.”
“It’s better to stay in our own community to serve than to take a group somewhere else. There’s plenty to do right here.”
Well, if you have zero experience with the Kingdom of God, then maybe you could espouse these ideas with a clear conscience. To the humanistic, atheistic mind, it would make sense to keep your eyes on yourself and your own group. An atheistic mind has no frame of reference for self-sacrifice or any compelling reason to go; but these ideas are not compatible with legitimate Christianity. They are actually “anti-” Christ. The philosophy here is “don’t go” when Jesus Himself clearly said “go.”
And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” — Matthew 28:18-20 NKJV
And He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” — Acts 1:7-8 NKJV
This Great Commission has no expiration date; it is not over. And, it does not discriminate. If you are a Jesus follower, He is telling you to go.
Obviously, you start with your own home, family and community. You love and serve and lay down your life for those within your sphere. Beyond that, God will show you if you ask Him! Go to the next community over from you. Go to a neighboring state. Go to a neighboring country. Get on a plane and fly across the globe.
Funny, when you start asking God about the things that matter to Him, you start to catch His heartbeat. And then your heart starts to get into the same rhythm with His. Pretty soon, you have a deep, passionate love for a people group you have never known or seen — and you might even find yourself in a car on the “wrong” side of town, or on a plane bound for a remote region of the world.
God. Loves. People. All people everywhere. And He wants them to know it, to experience waves of His love.
How can that happen? Through you.
Here are 7 reasons I believe we all should serve outside our hometown:
1. It is the heart of God to reach out.
Throughout time, God has always reached out to humanity — in the Garden of Eden, through the prophets, through the Scriptures, through His Son Jesus. Today, He reaches out by the Holy Spirit through His children to accomplish His will in the earth. If you want to do what God is doing, reach out.
2. Jesus commanded it.
The last thing Jesus instructed His disciples to do before He returned to heaven was to “go and make disciples of all nations.” That’s pretty clear.
3. Jesus did it.
Jesus left the comfort and splendor of heaven to live as a man here with us — the ultimate outreach. And beyond that, He modeled for us exactly how to enter the “unacceptable” communities around his hometown to love people and set them free.
4. Jesus’ disciples did it.
The people who were closest to Jesus during His ministry actually took His command seriously. They went out from their homes and took the message of salvation through Jesus’ sacrifice everywhere they possibly could — in word and deed.
5. Reaching out beyond yourself breaks down spiritual walls.
Something very special happens when people from different backgrounds, ethnicities and languages connect heart to heart. When a mother from America hugs a mother from Romania, it can change everything. When a child from Germany plays soccer with a child from Syria, it can change everything. When a young professional from Norway wipes the tears of a homeless man in Nepal, it can change everything. Spiritual strongholds are broken by acts of love like these. And once those strongholds come down, the Gospel — the Good News — can flood in.
6. The Kingdom is transferred through you.
The way Jesus intends to change the world is through His people, His Church. Yes, He visits people in their dreams. Yes, there are other miraculous instances of some people meeting Him without another person being involved — but the fact remains that He sent us out and He intends for us to carry the Kingdom of God and release it. We are ambassadors who should be releasing the reality of heaven wherever we go.
7. Serving outside your comfort zone opens your eyes to God’s big picture.
The most amazing thing happens when you travel for the purpose of serving people and sharing the good news of Jesus: You begin to see. The eyes of your heart become focused in a new way, and you get to witness firsthand how big and how great God really is. Serving in another place breeds humility deep inside your core, along with gratitude, repentance and devotion. Loving people who are very much unlike you in so many ways helps you to see that we are all actually very much alike in the ways that truly matter. Seeing the big picture — getting God’s perspective — is a key element to knowing God’s heart; and knowing God’s heart is a key element to changing our world.
A life spent sharing Jesus and loving people into the Kingdom is a life well spent. Stepping out to follow Jesus’ command to “go and make disciples of all nations” is a step you will not regret when you look back on your life. Don’t wait. Be brave — and go!