Monday, November 08, 2010


First, let me say from the start that I am all for missions, i.e. giving of money and/or labor for the purpose of spreading the Gospel message, as well as serving/ministering to people in need. Missions can be in the form of sending a check to a group or organization to actually joining in doing some of the work yourself. Missions can be local or all the way across the ocean. Missions can be in the form of talking to someone about their relationship with Jesus Christ or simply offering them a warm blanket, a hot meal, or helping clean up after a disaster. There's no "set in stone" definition. For the sake of this discussion, I am referring more to missions done in association with one's faith or religion. That doesn't mean that I think only Christians can be kind or that we've cornered the market on helping other.

Second, I've got nothing against what is typically referred to as foreign missions. My wife and I have supported a foreign mission for over 15 years with a monthly check. We'll never go there; we'll never see first-hand the impact of our contribution, but we receive letters from the missionaries so we know that our money is being used wisely and goes to help people that might otherwise not have some of the things we take for granted here in the United States.

All of that said, I think we've (and I have to include myself in this one) missed the boat on missions in the church today. Here's why I say that. In many--maybe most--of the churches I've been part of or visited, it seems the emphasis is more on foreign missions, which are not bad, but I can't help but think: "Aren't there some people around here that could use some help?...and why are we going all the way to Mexico or Guatemala when there are people right down the street that need our help?"

Ponca_05This past week, I became aware of a situation where a single mother was in need of some major repairs to her home, so much so the insurance company told her they could no longer insure her home in it's current condition. Large areas of siding were rotten and falling off. The fireplace and chimney had pulled away from the house and consequently was pulling the exterior wall down. A portion of the roof needed to be replaced and the whole house needed a good coat of paint, just to name a few things. The sad thing, this woman is a member of a local congregation I used to attend...and apparently no one knew about any of this situation!

What really made this scenario even more frustrating was this same church's pastor proclaimed on more than one occasion his goal for the congregation was to see at least 50 PERCENT of the budget going toward missions! Now, I don't recall if that comment was ever qualified, i.e. how much would be for local versus foreign missions, etc. but here's the deal---if there's ONE, JUST ONE widow in a congregation that is living in a home in need of repair, a lawn that needs to be mowed, a dishwasher that needs to be repaired...and that congregation is sending the Youth Group to Mexico for a week BEFORE the widows or needy in the congregation are taken care of THAT'S JUST WRONG!

So...a group of us got together and spent the weekend working to get the woman's house repaired. At any given time, there were at least 10 to 12 people hauling debris, replacing siding, scraping and priming, re-building a wall, etc. One thing that made it interesting, I noticed all of the workers no longer attended the previously mentioned church (another story) and all of us don't attend the same church now...we were just a group of people that cared about a fellow sister in Christ, saw a need and took care of it. No committee. No committee meetings. Just a group of people "doing church." That's how it should be.

And you know what? It was FUN! We worked, we laughed and we found muscles and joints we didn't know we had. Now, where did I put that bottle of Ibuprofen?

"This is pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father, to visit orphans and widows in their distress..." (James 1:27)   "...Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me." (Matthew 25:40)