Belly down on the avocado green shag carpet in my brother’s bedroom, I listened to Journey pumping from the cassette deck on his stereo. With “Don’t Stop Believing” blaring in the background, my brother shared his dream of going on mission trips. I cared way more about making the cheerleading squad and which Izod shirt I was going to wear with my khaki pants, tightly rolled above my ankles. (If this makes no sense, you are not a child of the 80’s!)
My older brother had great concern for people he’d never yet met. People who lived far, far away. I found his international bent interesting. He’s always loved weird food, learning languages, and meeting people from all over the world.
I wondered if God prewires people like him for mission work. I felt guilty that I didn’t have the same desire. Maybe I should want to. But my teenaged attention span was consumed by friends, fashion, and having fun.
When God later got a hold of my heart, I began to care about people in a new way—all kinds of people. In David Platt’s book, Follow Me, he reasons that you can’t help but bring others to Christ once Jesus has transformed your heart. When you are saved, Platt argues, you’re regenerated, and things that were once unimportant (like caring about the nations) become a priority.
As I began to know Jesus personally, He began swapping out my old desires for new ones. Like the surprising desire that came one day in the mid-90s after reading a newspaper article about the Kosovo refugee crisis. Before I knew it, I was apartment shopping for a family of four refugees. There was another time when I got an insatiable urge to travel to dusty Kampala, Uganda, E. Africa.
At my church missions conference last year, this statement made by Danny Akin, President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, grabbed me:
“The Spirit of Christ is the Spirit of Jesus. Jesus was the first missionary. The closer you get to Jesus, the more mission minded you become.”
I believe all Christ followers are called to a mission field. But what if you don’t want to be a missionary? That’s ok. Instead, be missional. Being missional simply means you’re willing to be used by Jesus to love others. And today, I’m specifically addressing being globally missional with those who are not “from here.”
It’s no problem if you don’t feel called to the mission field. But do you desire to love the nations? Or, is this a part of your heart you are withholding from Jesus?
If you love Jesus—if He lives within you—doesn’t that mean His love for the nations dwells in you too? So what’s keeping you from allowing His crazy love at work in you to toss some pebbles in a foreign place? Or to people who’ve traveled from afar to your area?
Perhaps you fear God would ask you to leave everything and go to some lonely place where you’d eat only tofu and beans and never take a hot shower? I have no idea what Jesus will ask you to do. I can only promise that loving the nations will increase your love for Him. It will increase your dependency on Him and understanding of His heart for all God’s children.
Which reminds me of a song I used to sing in church when I was five or six years old:
Do you love the nations? Please jump into the conversation by leaving a comment.