I remember years ago, when Sarah and I first went to the mission field, a few people told me we should focus on people in our own backyard first instead of "taking off overseas". At the time I brushed the comments aside. Today I am paying attention.
You see I have heard these comments A LOT over the years. Not just to us, but when people talk about helping others period. Recently, I was discussing foreign aid with some people online and the comments I heard years ago came hurtling back.
It got me to thinking; where exactly is this backyard I keep hearing about?
In an ideal world, every believer would reach out with the love of Christ to their own neighbors. If you are one of those who are actively engaged in sharing Christ with others, than Praise God, keep it up!. What happens though, to those in towns, cities, villages, etc.. where there is no witness? Do we let them drift to hell while we sit on our hands talking about our own backyards?
What about our "backyard?" I have noticed that most who talk about this "backyard" actually use it as an excuse to do nothing at all. Worse, they may throw some money at a project or make half-hearted attempts to share with those in need before quickly retreating to the safety of their home church.
People are dying and going to hell. Are we getting out to where they are and sharing Him?
People are suffering! Over 2 million people live on less than $2 a day. How much did I spend on coffee this week? Personally, this week I spent over $10 on coffee. How many people would that have fed in the third world?
Don't get me wrong. I am not saying we can't enjoy life. I am asking how we can ignore suffering people around the world or in our own backyard? How many homeless people are there in your town? Where do the alcoholics hang out? The prostitutes? The young people? Where are those who have been sexually abused? Those with lifestyles that conflict with our interpretation of Scripture? Are we hanging with them? Are we loving them? Are we eating with them? Ministering to them?
If not I have one question: Why not? Jesus did!
"What do you think? A man had two sons. And he went to the first and said, 'Son, go and work in the vineyard today.' And he answered, 'I will not,' but afterward he changed his mind and went. And he went to the other son and said the same. And he answered, 'I go, sir,' but did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?" They said, "The first." Jesus said to them, "Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before you.
What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.
I don't want you to feel guilty. I want you to act. Put actions to our words of faith. Put hands and feet to the life we talk about in church. Go where Jesus is...to the world around us.