As we move through our day, God provides random opportunities for us to interact with others. These opportunities always include the potential for sharing the love of Jesus Christ with others. In my mind this makes us missionaries, though not in the traditional sense of the word. A missionary is defined as a person sent on a religious mission, especially one sent to promote Christianity in a foreign country.
My family’s missionary excursions are not like those of Paul. His journeys took him far from home and often brought him face to face with hardship and near death experiences. In 2 Corinthians 11:24-27, Paul describes the harsh and life threatening conditions he faced as a missionary.
Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked.
Have members of our family been beaten for sharing the gospel? No. Has anyone in our family been stoned for talking to others about the gift of salvation? Not once. Have any us been imprisoned without food or clothing because we believe that Jesus is King of Kings and Lord of Lords? Never. However, in our little corner of the mission field, our family has “labored” as we spread the Good News in our neighborhood.
You and your family can serve as missionaries without ever leaving the country. In fact, you don’t need to leave your state or even step outside of your town. Just venture outside your door and begin interacting with those on your street and in your neighborhood. You can take advantage of missionary opportunities by sharing God’s love in your neighborhood. Here are some ideas on how to do so.
- Reflecting the character of Christ in what you say and do. This is extremely important! One cannot effectively witness to others unless she displays the character of Christ. Neighbors are willing to interact with and listen to you when you’re friendly, kind, and approachable.
- Developing relationships with neighbors. It’s hard to speak to neighbors about Christ without having established good relationships first. You don’t have to be best friends, but strive to develop a friendly rapport with your neighbors. Speak to your neighbors regularly. Engage them in conversation. If you zip into the garage and quickly close the door behind you each day, you’ll miss valuable opportunities to interact with your neighbors and forfeit opportunities to bond with with them.
- Providing meals to those in need. Is there a mom in your neighborhood who’s recently given birth? Is there an elderly shut in on your block who is unable to cook regularly? Is a local family in the midst of a financial crisis? Consider preparing a meal for or bringing a take out meal to the family. The gift of food is almost always welcome!
- Assisting neighbors with chores or yard work. Do you have elderly citizens or single moms on your street? Reach out and share God’s love with them by helping to ease their workload. Gather your family and consider shoveling snow for them or mowing their lawns.
- Sending cards to show show, sympathy, support or encouragement. If you talk to your neighbors regularly, you’ll know what’s going on in their lives. If they’re celebrating a birthday or have experienced a loss, share God’s love by sending an encouraging card. This small act of kindness often yields great thankfulness.
- Share your blessings. Do you have a backyard vegetable garden? If so, share your harvest with neighbors and include a Thinking of You card too. When God blesses you, consider how you can share your blessing with a neighbor.
In return for each of these neighborly kindnesses, God has blessed us with the pleasure of warm relationships, new friendships, and an opportunity to bring others together. If you’d like to prepare to do missionary work as a family, I recommend keeping a variety of materials at hand. These items make up what we refer to as The Missionary Toolkit. Feel free to add additional items to suit your service.
- All occasion cards
- disposable containers for packaging meals
- a few inexpensive gift cards
In I Corinthians 12:27, Paul tells followers of Jesus Christ, “Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” We may not be charged with setting up medical clinics for the sick in a remote country. We haven’t been asked to wield hammers and nails to help construct a group home for orphaned children. However, we have been called to make disciples and that can begin right where are…at home. Let’s roll up our sleeves, get to work, and see if we can lead others to Christ. He wants us to be His hands and feet here on Earth!
Photo courtesy of winnond/Freedigitalphotos.net