~By: Sylvia Reynolds-Blakely~
"My Feet, My Mission" is the title of our evangelist pastor’s latest project. His declaration is that wherever our feet are is where our mission work should be taking place.
When I was younger, I was SO intimidated by mission work because my perception was that I: (a) had to be selected to be a missionary by the governing body of the church; (b) couldn’t do mission work without highly specialized training that would take years to complete; (c) had to raise thousands of dollars to fund a limited trip; (d) had to be thousands of miles from home before it qualified as mission work; and (e) would DEFINITELY need multiple shots for various life-threatening diseases to be on the mission field. In all honesty, no one actually told me any of that. I just assumed by the images and stories I’d seen and heard that ‘that’s how it’s done.’
In 2009, I finally got to be part of an ‘officially sanctioned’ medical mission trip to the Dominican Republic. I functioned essentially as a Nurse Practitioner, which is what I was trained to do. I’d gotten the information from a co-worker, and I decided to make all of the necessary plans for travel to the capital of the DR, then set out for the remote countryside to provide medical care to the rural villagers.
Now, mind you, I’d self selected to go to Louisiana about a week after hurricane Katrina hit in 2005 to be part of the Red Cross’ work in Baton Rouge helping to relocate New Orleanians. My job there was to assess their medical needs and get them established with community health services (which just happened to be my specialty as a Community Health Nurse). But for some reason, I didn’t consider that trip a mission trip because I didn’t think it checked off all of my ‘mission work’ boxes. And yet, I was clearly exhibiting the love of Christ to everyone I encountered at that massive shelter.
I waited four more years to officially say I was on the ‘mission field’ which, as I look back now, was an inaccurate assessment. On both occasions, I felt Holy Spirit calling me to insert myself into the lives of others in the most helpful and meaningful way He had uniquely prepared me to do. And, I came to realize that same call is on my life everywhere I am; wherever my feet are.
I travel a fair amount each year, but most times I am just out and about in my local community. That means that, really, I am constantly on the mission field. If I see a young lady struggling to pay for a car, college, coffee, etc., I am supposed to swoop in. I meet people on the streets in EVERY city I am in, and I am to provide aid as Holy Spirit leads. I pray over waitresses at restaurants. I bless children who are sick by laying on hands, asking that the Lord bless them and keep them, that He makes His face to shine upon them and be gracious unto them, that He lift up His countenance upon them and give them peace (Numbers 6:24-26).
I was recently reading about the life of Dorcas in chapter 9 of the Book of Acts in the New Testament; a woman that many of us can relate to. She was a busy seamstress that apparently used her gifts to bless many widows with practical things like garments. When she fell ill and died, Peter was called upon to raise her back to life so that she could continue to serve the people in her village with the skills God gifted her with. Glory hallelujah if we could be half as productive with our gifts to just half the number of people Dorcas served!
Let’s not wait until we are asked to start out on our mission field. Let’s get busy using our gifts to spread the good news of the Gospel wherever our feet are.
What are some practical ways to do this? Here are some suggestions from the walk of Jesus:
Jesus went to every town and village. Where are you meant to travel to witness about the goodness of Christ? It’s clear you have to be willing to accept a mission and then go. Leaving our comfort zone is a requisite feature of mission work. It could be the people in your neighborhood (like Dorcas) or neighbors in Zimbabwe. Allow Holy Spirit to open you up to those in need.
Jesus: (a) taught in their meeting places; and (b) preached the good news about God’s Kingdom. One must study the Word to know enough to teach it, but being a Bible scholar is not a prerequisite to being on the mission field for Christ. Christ likely used passages from the Old Testament that many people would have been familiar with. PLUS, He used parables, which are stories with a point, to illuminate the Kingdom of God. One could start with a story like Nicodemus’ in John 3:1-21 where Christ laid out the path to salvation. You certainly should share your own salvation story and what sparked your decision to accept Jesus into your life. Your testimony is the most powerful salvation story you’ve personally experienced. The second part is the ‘good news’ that our faith IS our salvation. Paul taught the Romans (Romans 1:16-17) that salvation comes from faith and that God accepts ALL who have faith in Him and His sovereignty to forgive sins. Those with faith will have eternal life (John 3:16); that is a promise we can easily share.
In the midst of His work, Christ stole some quiet time for prayer and meditation on the Word. Mark 1:35 notes that this was an early practice of His. He apparently did this even when there appeared to be an overwhelming need for His presence elsewhere. That means we cannot leave off prayer and quiet time either.
Jesus healed every kind of disease and sickness. We, His followers, have been given the SAME power to heal (Matthew 10:1). And if you question your worthiness to use these gifts, remember that even Judas Iscariot was granted this power (Matthew 10:4). The apostle Peter had his ups and downs on his walk with Christ, but he freely and effectively used the powers granted to him to heal the sick and raise the dead. (See Acts 9:32-42.)
So, come into agreement with Jesus that the harvest is plentiful. It won’t be hard to find work. Become a worker for the Lord wherever your feet are.