This past week a woman in my bible study shared her frustration - for months/years she has felt the Lord preparing her for mission work, and yet doors continue to close. We talked a little more and she shared that while opportunities for international work weren't panning out, she had had numerous opportunities to serve her family over the last few months. I challenged her with a truth I've been learning over the past several years - what if her heart for missions isn't meant to be fulfilled internationally, but in her own backyard? What if the community God was calling her to reach were her own friends and family - her own city and neighborhood?
10 years ago I headed to college with big dreams - I had developed a passion for international rights work and thought maybe God was calling me overseas. I spent some time in Kenya and my eyes were opened to a world of overwhelming poverty and despair. But then I attended law school in the city I grew up in and started looking at the suffering in my own backyard. It might look different than it did in Africa, but it was still fierce and prevalent.
Then I met my husband and God made it clear that he was calling us to Minnesota. Wait. Minnesota?!? I had pictured myself in Africa, D.C., Detroit....but Minnesota? We weren't even living in the inner city, but suburbia! I figured maybe this was a stop-over, a season of life where God was strengthening our marriage and trust in him, rather than a time of answering any "missional" call.
I was so naive. Wherever we are we are surrounded by others who need to know the love and saving grace of Jesus. Currently, Brandon and I are learning the art of "neighboring" - asking ourselves what does it truly mean to love our neighbors? While some attend church, we've quickly realized that many of those going through the steps of practicing a religion are drastically at a loss for a true relationship with Christ. Being a stay-at-home-mom gives me an incredible opportunity to reach out to our neighbors on a regular basis (i.e. our 4 pm daily walks, playgroups, book club, visiting elderly neighbors, etc.).
Additionally, in a world where it is increasingly considered hateful to disagree with someone or hold fast to conservative biblical beliefs, God is teaching me to love, but remain bold in my beliefs with those I encounter on a daily basis.
"I have obeyed the voice of the Lord. I have gone on the mission on which the Lord sent me."
1 Samuel 15:20
While it might not seem as glamorous as the global mission field, remember that your neighborhood and community are just as important.