The Ground Beneath Our Feet: Applying Missions To Every Day Life
The world of missions is rapidly expanding. When we think of a missionary, our minds may go back to the days of famous heroes such as Hudson Taylor, Jim Elliot, Amy Carmichael, and many others—people who radically laid their lives down by following God’s calling to leave the comfort of their homes and preach the Gospel to distant nations and people groups. I used to think that being a missionary only meant selling your possessions and moving to a foreign country to evangelize and meet the needs of the people there. When I joined YWAM, though, my experiences stretched my own definition of “missionary” to a much broader concept. I do not think we’ve left the days of frontier missions behind us, so much as we have expanded on them and entered a movement that transcends one type of calling. I know that I am not alone in this idea either: all over the world, we are witnessing an entire generation waking up and discovering they can impact the world in endless ways.
To see it, we only have to wake up as well. The world right in front of us is just as ripe with possibility as the continents mapped on our bedroom wall.
“Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’”
This is Matthew 28:18-20, a passage that is often called the Great Commission—the mantra of God’s missions movement that’s growing all over the world since Jesus spoke these words. What does it mean? When you surrender your life to Him, His Spirit comes to live inside you, His love heals and transforms you, and His relationship with you continues beyond death for eternity. And He wants to multiply this encounter by authorizing and commissioning you to lead others to experience Him in the same way! What an amazing privilege we’ve been invited into, knowing that when Jesus gave us this task to complete, He didn’t leave us to do it alone. He has sent us His Spirit to fill us with His presence and accomplish impossible things, and has promised He will be with us day after day, right until the end.
God is so intentional and creative in the ways He calls us to fulfill the Great Commission! While hopefully all of us have a desire in our heart to spread the Gospel, that will look different in every person’s life. We may not all become frontier missionaries and evangelize to people who have never even heard the name of Jesus—but looking through the lens of Matthew 28, we all are called to missions. Our mission field is not only the nations, it is the ground beneath our feet. Isn’t it liberating to know that your “yes” to God’s calling on your life is not limited to a place or a group of people? The Father is so generous with His invitation to involve you in His great missions movement that He wants to express His love, through you to the world, wherever you are.
So what does this look like? How do we practice being missional in our everyday life?
During my Discipleship Training School at YWAM Redding earlier this year, one of our speakers taught us about four roles of missions that we can apply to our lives, whether we are fulfilling the Great Commission in the streets of the Middle East or an aisle in the grocery store. By practicing these roles even in the small town where I live, I am getting to see God’s love evidence itself in the lives of people around me!
- WELCOME people. Be intentional about connecting with those who enter your life as strangers, friends, classmates, family, and international visitors. There are times God may ask you to simply tell someone you see across the street that He loves them, but because He is a relational God Who loves connection with humanity, He will also send people that you can establish relationships with to love them as Jesus does. Ask the Holy Spirit (Who wants to be your Friend for life, and therefore is really good at teaching you how to welcome others into friendship) who He has placed in your life to connect with more deeply!
- MOBILIZE people. This means that when God defines for you the meaning of the Great Commission and why He wants us to partner with Him to fulfill it, don’t be afraid to cast that same vision to others who also feel the desire to know God and make Him known. When an opportunity arises for you to do so, share stories about how you have seen God heal people’s hearts, fill them with His presence, and transform your own life. Your own stories actually carry the ability to recreate and inspire hunger for the experience of His love in someone else. If you feel like you do not have a story, ask God to show you what your story is! Learn to become aware of His constant presence in your story by surrendering the space and schedule of your days to Him, so that He can express His love for you in even the busiest, most mundane moments. Sometimes it just takes a moment of focusing our thoughts and affections onto Him. The more time you spend growing in relationship with Jesus, making it the ultimate goal of your life, the more your story with Him will become a history to treasure and share. You also have the freedom to share stories of what God has done in other’s lives you have heard from or read about! By empowering other believers to share their stories with a world that needs to hear them, you mobilize and multiply carriers of His love. Jesus was a storyteller with the intent to reveal His heavenly Father’s heart–by telling stories, you are teaching people about love and preaching the Gospel the way He did.
- SEND people. Being a sender means serving and supporting people who do go out to the nations. Be joyfully generous with the resources God has given you to invest in His missions movement! Go beyond a weekly tithe at church or an occasional donation and be devoted to supporting other missionaries consistently. There may be missionaries that your church has sent out, or an organization of Christian missionaries that God may ask you to support, or a missionary you know personally. You get to become a resource for people who are depending on God’s provision to equip them to spread the Gospel! Being a sender is truly a privilege when we recognize that we have been blessed with finances, time, etc., so that we can bless others.
- GO. When God does give you an opportunity to be a cross-cultural missionary, don’t be afraid to say yes! If He asks you to go, GO! This is a wonder-filled and positively challenging time He will set aside for you to immerse yourself in another culture and learn how to share the Gospel in multiple ways. It may be short or long-term–either way, invest in your missions trip by getting prepared. Learn from other “goers” by asking questions, doing research, or participating in a missions-training program such as a YWAM Discipleship Training School. If it is a short-term trip, one of the best ways to make a lasting impact there is connecting with long-term missionaries who live there and serving them. Learn and serve their vision, their ministry, and the local people they are there for, in any way that God equips you to. Recognize that such a trip may cost you in areas that you were previously comfortable in–independence, familiarity with the day-to-day, the direction you thought your future was going. But what a joy it is to return from these adventures with a renewed mindset and better understanding of yourself, your world, and your heavenly Father! These trips are opportunities for you to lay down your life for others in both evangelism and service. Do not lose heart if it becomes challenging to adjust to a culture or living with other missionaries away from home; these experiences will shape you just as much as they shape the people you are there to love and serve! Be fully present where He sends you by learning about the local culture, maintaining a heart of humility and love in the process, and always being ready to share bravely and compassionately about God’s love with the people He places in your path. Trust that when He sends you out to the nations, He is going to provide for you and walk alongside you with His love and friendship every step of the way.
Experiences like missions trips will transform your heart as God stretches your inner world and changes the lives of people you meet–the beauty of missions itself is that these experiences are meant to follow you throughout the journey of your life as a believer in Christ, not only when you travel to a foreign country! The best way to make an impact in your world is by starting at the ground beneath your feet. Create a time today for you to ask God how you can begin to fulfill the Great Commission in your daily life!