Two weekends ago we were challenged in several areas by our missionary Dave Southwell from A.B.W.E. On Friday evening and all day Saturday, Dave challenged us in the area of evangelism and discipleship making. It was a full time of teaching and resources to help us grow forward in these two important areas. On Sunday morning Dave spoke on the topic of “What Churches Send Missionaries?” As I listened to Dave speak, I was reminded that missions always begins at home in our own “Jerusalem”. Two of the illustrations Dave talked about, Peter- a bold witness and Stephen- a sacrificial witness, served their witness first and foremost in Jerusalem. Philip, the third witness (the sensitive witness) began as a deacon in the local church in Jerusalem.
In doing my devotional reading this week in the book of Acts, I was again reminded of the importance of the sending church. In the 13th chapter of Acts, we read of the church in Antioch sending out Barnabas and Paul as the 1st missionary team to be church planters in the Gentile world. We read, “So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off. The two of them, sent on their way by the Holy Spirit went down to Seleucia and sailed from there to Cyprus (v.3-4)”. Again, Paul and Barnabas had a very fruitful ministry in Antioch before God called them out to spread the gospel in Asia Minor. Remember missions always begins at home.
When I was pastoring in Twining Michigan, three summers in a row we sent our teens on short term mission trips. One year they went to Minnesota to work on an Indian Reservation doing various ministries. One of the ministries was to be involved in working with a Vacation Bible School being taught on the reservation. One of the mission committee member objected. Her statement shows a profound sense of insight. She asked, “Why are we sending our kids to work with a VBS in Minnesota when they are not even involved in our own VBS?” Great question! One of the things I appreciate so much about our teens here at NDC is that they are involved in VBS and so many other ministries going on. In fact we could hardly do our VBS without our teens involvement. So when I was asked a year and half ago to support our young people going to Honduras to build a church, I could give my whole hearted support and encouragement (my financial support as well). So let us remember missions begins at home. We need bold witnesses, sensitive witnesses and sacrificial witnesses as we seek to reach our own Jerusalem.
Shalom, Pastor Rich Sivo