Saturday, December 01, 2012

Why Missionaries Must Love The People They Are Reaching

With Impact student leaders in 2011
Ed Stetzer offers a challenging perspective to all Christians who feel called by God to reach out to a specific community. It is a mindset that of missions that I hope to live out in my own life and ministry.

He says this:
""Give me Scotland or I die!" That's what John Knox said of Scotland. I would say: To fall in love with your community, you have to die--to yourself, to the mission and to your own preferences. 
If you are going to reach a community, you need to be deeply in love with it. Jesus, looking down on Jerusalem, cried, "They are like sheep without a shepherd." We have to say the same, about Plainview, Philadelphia and Pasadena. I am convinced you will not reach a community for Christ unless you are deeply in love with the community and its people
I have often called for Christians in our world to think like missionaries in the Two-Thirds World. If you have ever been around a missionary, you know that the good ones all love the people they are sent to--they can't stop talking about the culture and context. 
When missionaries take up residence cross-culturally, they truly love the culture where they live, sometimes even more than the culture back home. In the same way, a person looking to minister in a specific community cannot be disinterested in it. If it is a fishing community, you had better love fishing or learn to love it. If the community has a high school football team, you had better keep up with it. If you are a church leader, the community and its people must have an important part in your heart. 
I think you and I need the same passion in our contexts--our own personal "Scotlands"--for the Gospel. 
Jesus demonstrated this very concept in His earthly ministry as He: walked with the people in His culture, lived with them, listened to them, told stories to them, welcomed their children, and recognized and met people's needs. 
Too many church leaders read a book or go to a conference and get a great vision of a church in their heads. The problem is, they don't have a great vision for their community. The catch here is that part of you often has to die. Your own preferences have to be laid down to receive Christ's call and mission to the community. I don't care what you like; I care that you love the Gospel and the people God has called you to reach."
While Stetzer words are true for any Christian hoping to reach out to a certain community, I believe it is especially true for those of us that minister cross-culturally. Above all else, a cross-cultural minister needs to live their life in a way that the people to whom they minister will never question either God's love for them or the love their experience by the missionaries serving their community. It's not enough to just love God...we must also love the people to whom he sends us.

To read the rest of Stetzer's post please click here.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

This is so good and so true.