I grew up in churches that always brought in Christian missionaries to “testify” about “the work” they were doing in “the mission field” (i.e., a mysterious and other worldly place).
Disclaimer: I am not here to criticize the Christian ministry that is done internationally by western missionaries.
I went to a Bible college which began as a launch pad for Pentecostal missionaries. It still is to a certant point.
But when we talked about missions, it kind of weirded me out.
I couldn’t put my finger on it for a few years.
I was finally able to pinpoint two reasons why this was:
1. I was afraid of going to the mission field.
But it wasn’t about the mission field itself.
I had a community back home I wanted to get back to and be a part of.
I had family. Friends. Friends who were like family.
And I wanted to pursue Jesus together with them.
During my second year in Bible college, God put his eye on me, and it was like I could feel him in my heart asking me, “If I told you to go, would you?”
After a week or two of resisting this sense (and after an ironic moment of listening to a worship song in my car whose lyrics were “I’ll go with you all the way” during which the question arose again), I finally screamed my yes to God.
And then the question was gone.
So this isn’t about fear, which leads to my second insight…
2. We talk about missions like it’s another world.
I get it.
A lot of us are U.S. citizens.
And we’re ethno-centric.
Therefore, international missions is a bit of an other-worldly novelty.
But we talk about it like a bunch of mid-19th century colonialists reaching the “tribal heathen” as if going on the mission field meant leaving on a boat never to be seen from again.
In reality, our world is flat.
A person can telecommute with a meeting in China from the comfort of their own house in the D.C. suburbs.
Oh, to be sure, there are still tribal and aboriginal parts of the globe, but the world is smaller.
International Christian service is no longer a scary, other-worldly reality.
It’s a part of the new global normal…for EVERY vocation.
I would like missions to be framed in less other-worldly terms, and in more real, concrete, and normal terms because a globalize, smaller world is the new normal.
I’m not sure our language fully reflects this normalcy yet.
We no longer need to scare people.
In a flat world, Christian ministry is Christian ministry, whether home or abroad.
International living is the new normal.
“[M]any others in positions of privilege and power – are operating under one important but false assumption: that both parties are equal, operating on a level playing field, so to speak.”