Sunday, February 22, 2015

Bold compassion - at home and abroad

"Why do you help overseas, when there are so many needs at home?"

This is a question I hear often, and one I try to answer fairly. In my experience, when people ask the question, they don't always give time for an answer, so the 6 or 7 reasons I have just stick in my head as I wonder which one they will actually hear in the seconds they give me their attention.

There are multiple reasons why, but I will answer just a few.

"Go and make disciples of all nations."
This is really the number one reason. These are the words of Jesus recorded in the Gospel of Matthew . In the book of Mark,  He is recorded as saying: "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation." And so, ultimately that is our number one reason for being a witness abroad as well as at home. If the original disciples never left Jerusalem, Christianity would never have got off the ground floor.

I had never considered volunteering abroad until a few years ago. I helped out with things locally, but never thought about stepping further than that. In the Experiencing God bible study (by Henry Blackaby), I learned to trust when I heard from God, that if He laid something on my heart then He was inviting me to join Him at work - and that is precisely how I felt when I had the opportunity to join this mission team in 2013.

As a Christian it is my duty to do what I can for others, no matter whether they fit my version of needy or worthy (Matt 25:40), and whether or not they are my people (Luke 25-37). The parable of the Good Samaritan isn't merely a good tale about being helpful, but about helping people who are not our own, that are even from foreign territory. Indeed, Jesus used this parable to explain that our neighbor is not just in our own town, but from every land.

But there are other issues at hand too. In our Western world, we fear the spread of evil - understandable; we shake our head at poverty; we wonder how God could let horrors happen. So what will we do about it? What is God expecting us to do about it? We get our hands dirty, that is what. Education, truth, love and compassion - these are all things that we can help to grow. How can we stop the spread of evil? By joining the battle with love and truth. How can we help fight the spread of poverty, drug addiction and corruption? Through education, empowering people with truth. 

If we think third world problems aren't a first world problem, then we ignore that spread of evil. The spread of drug lords and other terror. And the enemy laughs as we sit at home saying this isn't our job to fix. I beg to differ. I think it is our job to meddle. The world - from my front door to the outer margins - is my mission field. 

I love that people want to help at home and that God has people placed in ministry where He needs them. And for many, praying for those who travel overseas is an important ministry all by itself!
And I still join in at home! In fact, one thing that these trips has taught me is how I can help more effectively at home! It has taught me the difference between enabling and empowering. What is true need. How God can work through people in the most dire circumstances! And to see our teenagers from Butler PA go out there, and come back with a greater compassion and deeper desire to act, then I say praise the Lord!! The next generation is grabbing this need and embracing it! 

Above all, it has taught me that I don't always know best. God is already at work in these countries, through missionaries and local churches. He isn't going to reveal the whole plan to little ol' me, so I have learned, and am still learning, that I just see a thrilling glimpse! And the importance of that is it reminds me, as I help at home, to listen to His leading - not assume I know what needs to be done. That much more can be accomplished if I let Him lead me instead of expecting God to bless my willful efforts. 

If you would like to support our efforts, you can come to any of our events or donate directly.
Checks can be made to our church FUMC Butler, with Honduras (Fannins) in the memo.



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