Read Matthew 28
I grew up going to a church with a large emphasis on world missions. The first verse I ever learned in Sunday School was John 3:16. The second was the Great Commission:
“Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel.” Every year, our church would host a missions conference. Missionaries from all over the world would come and share amazing stories of foreign cultures, strange food, and divine intervention. I heard about doctors, nurses, teachers, pilots, Bible translators, all serving God in exotic lands. They all talked about their mysterious “call” to the mission field. They talked of saying things to God like, “I’ll go anywhere you want, just don’t send me to Africa!” Which of course is exactly where they ended up.
I remember having friends that were afraid of missions conference time, because they worried they might get “the call” and have to leave the comforts of home for the jungles of South America. I was never wild about hearing the stories of insects the size of dinner plates or having to eat pig intestines as the honored guest in a tribal chief’s home. I didn’t like the idea of leaving behind macaroni and cheese for good, but I hoped that God would send me off to be a missionary. I waited for him to call me. But he didn’t. He left me here.
It has not been a tremendous life disappointment that he didn’t send me to another country to tell pagans about his love. In fact, the older I get, the more grateful I am for the comforts of home. I pray fervently for missionary friends and family and count it an honor and privilege to do so. Every time I hear “in Jerusalem, in all Judea, Samaria and the ends of the earth,” (Acts 1:8) I get that stirring in my heart that I am not doing enough by sending a shoebox at Christmastime or direct depositing a donation to friends in Rumania.
People say, “missions start at home.” I tend to think they are just saying that to make me feel better. My world at home is small and populated by people who already love Jesus. I have little kids, and I teach them at home. My world doesn’t expand easily. I whine about not even having opportunities.
But God is showing me that my home is my mission field. Not just my home town, but the house I live in. Every parent, every mom has a special call on her life. As unique as the call to the pulpit or the mission field, at the moment life began to grow in our bodies, or love began to grow in your hearts for your child of choice, God began calling us to mission work, to be “disciples” and “teaching them to obey” (Matthew 28:19,20).
“Train up a child in the way he should go,” Proverbs 22:6 says. And that is our mission. We will be required to learn a new language as our children struggle to learn our own, we will be required to heal the sick through the kissing of boo-boos. We will need to teach the natives about God from scratch and invent creative and engaging ways to do so. We will show them love by teaching them life skills, like how to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and clip coupons. From us, they will learn coping skills: disputes with neighboring tribes (red brother) should be handled peaceably rather than through massacre. They will learn to put God at the center, to hide his word in their hearts, to give to him first, to love others the way they have been shown love. They will rest sure in the knowledge that their parents and their creator love them completely.
Children, just like the population of every destitute person in every developing country across the world, have the free will to believe what we tell them to be true, or to follow their own way. As parents, as part of their training, we would like to be able to choose the right way for them, but the whole point of training is to give them the tools to make their own decisions.
One way or another, we are training world-changers. The home is where the stone drops into the pool and its ripples are far reaching. The time we invest being missionaries to our children today ultimately effects every other person they come in contact with for the rest of their lives. On what other mission field can you say that? Certainly the work is important, vital and far reaching, but no one has the same influence on a child’s life as his mother. No one.
Open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.