I have grown up in the church all my life. Thinking of my conversion, rather than pinpointing a single moment, I can see it came through the planting of seeds by many workers. Workers who took time to invest in my life, to hear my story, to encourage and teach me, and sometimes rebuke me. They shared Jesus with me in an intentional and real way, and the seeds they planted took root and grew into a tree bearing fruit. There are more seeds to be planted. The harvest is great.
It’s Taiwan, it’s Chad, it’s the East Coast, West Coast, Midwest. It’s your backyard, your neighborhood. But the workers are few. The concept of missions is often compartmentalized. We think cross-cultural, across the ocean, bilingual. However, what about the people next door? Do they know Jesus? When is the last time you invited your neighbor in to share a meal? When is the last time you asked your coworker to share their story? As Christians, many of us have this idea that missions is this grand gesture of moving across the world… when maybe, it’s as simple as befriending the check-out lady you say hello to at the grocery store every week.
People want to be known. We all have a deep desire to be loved and to be in a genuine relationship with others. Jesus was an expert at relationships. He had a heart for serving others. We can read about his constant ministry in the New Testament—how he healed, fed, shared stories, listened to, wept with people, and even washed the feet of his disciples. He took time to invest in the lives of his followers, and spoke boldly about his Father. He knew this life was temporary, and looked to the eternal kingdom in heaven. He left us a great example, but not an easy task.
Jesus never said being his follower would be easy. “And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:27). Jesus asks his followers to drop what they are doing and follow him, no matter the cost. As they were called, some disciples dropped their day’s catch of fish, others gave up worldly riches and lifestyles, some left family behind. Each follower makes a sacrifice, because we know what Jesus has done for us. And why wouldn’t we want to share his good news?
When we stop to think about Jesus’ ministry, and the way he trained his disciples, it gives us a better idea of what missions should look like. We are all part of the body of Christ. And we all have been given different gifts; some in teaching, some in encouragement, some in faith, some in wisdom… the list goes on. As gifted people, we are the individual parts that make up one body. Each part of the body is important and indispensable, no matter how small (1 Corinthians 12).
Where do your gifts lie? How are you using your gifts for the Kingdom of God? Maybe your gift is encouragement. Take a look around you. Who are the people around you who are suffering and need to hear about Jesus? Perhaps it’s a young mom who is feeling isolated and battling with depression. Or possibly it’s a teenager who is struggling with making real relationships in a generation of social media. Maybe it’s the elderly lady down the street who just lost her driver’s license, and could use some company. Maybe it’s the man who always seems to have a smile, but—unknown to you—is struggling through a failing marriage. We are so busy that we forget to take time for others. Jesus always took time for people. Yes, he took time away to rest. But he was intentional. He had compassion for the lost and the suffering.
What if we lived like this? What if the next time we saw a homeless man on the corner, instead of avoiding or judging him, we brought him to a café and took time to listen? Isn’t that what Jesus’ ministry was all about? Taking time to listen to others? Realizing that our world is always going to be busy, but that it is only temporary? Looking towards eternity and being so excited we can’t help but share the good news we have found in Jesus?
So, workers, are you ready? God has called each of us to share his Good News, and he promises to go with us. “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20). What greater news do we have than this? The harvest is ready. Jesus has already prepared it for us. He is calling us to go out into our neighborhoods. Whether it be the United States, Canada, Japan, Chad, Taiwan—wherever we are, there is a harvest! There are people waiting to hear the Good News, people waiting to be listened to and loved. They need Jesus as much as we do.
“The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field” (Matthew 9:37-38).
Sara Hosch and her husband, Rev. Ben Hosch, are LBIM missionary candidates to the Hakka people of Taiwan.