Your Global Mission Field is in Your Own Backyard
The immigrants who live among us often feel lonely and isolated. Learn how to spread God’s love.
By NANCY GOLDEN
First UMC Carrollton
Are you thinking about taking a mission trip, but not sure about traveling to a foreign country?
In Acts 1:8, Jesus tells his disciples, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” After His words, Jesus ascends into heaven, leaving his disciples with a mission, the same one we share today: through the power of the Holy Spirit we are to bring the gospel to a world that desperately needs a Savior.
So where do you fit in the big picture? Not everyone is called to witness in the same places. And the truth of the matter is, much of our international mission field does not even require a plane ticket; people from other countries and cultures have come to us and live in our own neighborhood. I certainly do not want to discourage those who are led to travel the globe in order to spread the Good News, but want to remind those of us who are not able to travel that opportunities still abound in our own backyard. The immigrant population of our country has exploded in recent years and most cities boast areas with ethnic concentrations from other countries.
Try to imagine what it must be like to be an immigrant in the United States today. Often people arrive here from great personal sacrifice. They may come from difficult situations in their native countries ranging from persecution to struggling to meet the basic needs of their families and dreaming for something more. A common thread of desire is found in each individual that enters our country — the desire for better opportunities for themselves and especially for their children.
Imagine being in a country where you do not understand the language. Some of the people you meet are not friendly and you are unsure of your welcome when you go places. This isn’t a vacation destination; this place is to be your home. But you can’t communicate very well. You want to participate in your children’s education and take part in your community, but you feel limited by the language barrier. Many of these folks that live among us feel isolated and lonely. And they are everywhere. They are your neighbors down the street. They live in the apartment complex by the grocery store where you shop. Their children attend the same schools as your children.
As an English as a Second Language teacher, the first and most important lesson I teach my students is “You are special, and God loves you so much. I am so glad you are here. We are the same and God loves each of us the same — we are all God’s children. There are good people and bad people in every country. I pray that God brings good people into your lives, people that will encourage you and love you.”
Are you the answer to that prayer? Can you provide a welcoming smile to a scared and lonely immigrant? Offer friendship and assistance? Perhaps that is your mission field … right in your own backyard!
Nancy Golden, a member of First UMC Carrollton, has a passion for sharing her faith and a heart for people of “every tribe and language and people and nation.” She graduated from Dallas Christian College and earned her master’s degree from Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary. Nancy’s seminary work included theology and Bible with an intercultural studies focus. Her passion for evangelism led her to author a book, The Second Greatest Commandment Meets the Great Commission: How to Love Your Neighbors to Christ (HIS Publishing Group 2013). She is an adjunct faculty member at Dallas Christian College and has taught How to Study the Bible, New Testament Survey, and World Religions. In addition, she has developed a cross-cultural missions course for Dallas Christian College that incorporates both the theology and the history of missions.
Published: Wednesday, January 25, 2017