hello neighbor

hello, neighbor. i was reminiscing of the times when training union was offered [it is no longer offered]. every sunday evening my family and i would go to training union before sunday evening service. training union, in today’s vernacular, was intense discipleship training, teaching church members from the time they can talk [yes, at a very early age] what the bible teaches, and why we as Christians believe what we believe. in a very real way, we learned what God’s word said about living a life for Him. it focused on the most important relationship, our relationship with God through Jesus Christ.

one of the topics i associate with training union is missions. we talked about different missionaries, and what it meant to travel overseas, giving your life over to God’s service. the purpose of missions is to fulfill the great commission.
go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. amen. [matthew 28:19-20]

with a deep burden to share the gospel with people in other countries, missionaries pack up a bag and travel to foreign lands. the ticket may be one way, with no intentions of coming back, or it may be a quick round trip for one week.

the impact missionaries have is sometimes unrealized until years later. one of the biggest hurdles is the acceptance into the local culture. it is inhibited because the missionary is from another country and culture, bringing with him a set of beliefs which are opposed to the current mainstream local beliefs.

we hear from missionaries about how God has worked in the lives of the people they interact with and also themselves. this is very important, for it encourages fellow Christians, and builds up the body of Christ. we have the opportunity tonight to hear from a team who spent a short period of time in spain this past summer.

where are the mission fields? as just mentioned, the mission fields have usually been considered the foreign countries that are not predominately Christianized. these countries did not have the same privilege of being exposed to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and so, in accordance with the great commission, people were called to teach all nations that
for God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. [john 3:16]

we are now living in a time when there are more diverse influences on our own society. the population of our home city is made up of people from all parts of the world. in one sense, the world has been brought to us. we know that Christianity is no longer as predominant and influential in our culture as it once was. in fact, the fastest growing religion in the united states is islam, and i suspect [not confirmed] that mormonism is a close second. we have a tremendous mission field in our own backyard.

the field of souls all around us is our mission field. whether they are in another country or our next door neighbor. are we motivated by a visible sacrifice of service to God or by a feeling so deep and personal we would take drastic actions as paul describes?
that I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. for I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh… [romans 9:2-3]

our mission field is where we are right now. look to your left and right. there is no room to assume people have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ simply by attending a bible study or a worship service.

you do not have to have a language barrier to overcome in order to totally rely on God for strength in sharing your faith with others.
let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for He is faithful that promised;) and let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as you see the day approaching. [hebrews 10:23-25]

reach out to someone you don’t know; say ‘hello, neighbor;’ and get to know them well enough to share your faith.

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