It happens almost every time I speak to individuals or groups about Europe as a mission field: “Ah, yeah, but we have those problems here, too.” The majority of the people who say this to me have either never been to Europe or have only been to Europe on vacation. To be honest, I’ve never known quite how to respond to this. Part of me wants to scream: “Don’t do that! Don’t minimize my ministry!”
Of course, that’s not the right response, so often I say: “Yes, but Europe is much farther down the same road that we (in America) are on.” But that fails to convey the urgency of the calling to Europe. And, yes, it is an urgent call.
I suspect that some of these people are trying to deflect the tug of the Holy Spirit to come to Europe as missionaries (or perhaps to do the same ministry at home). What they’re really saying is: “Why go there when the same problems exist here?” And I could get in their faces and ask them: “OK, so you recognize these problems, what are you doing about them here?” Because I also suspect that besides volunteering once a month in a soup kitchen, they are not doing anything tangible to change the bad situation that they acknowledge is right here in their own backyard. Furthermore, they are probably not praying about the bad situation that’s right in their face, either—or maybe they made a single plea to God: “Lord, help these poor people.”
But I doubt that such a confrontation would be effective in motivating anyone into the mission field, either there or here.
Here’s the thing that I really want to say to all those who have remarked to me that America has the same problems as Europe:
Unless you have spent time in ministry (treasure-hunting for trafficked women, reaching out to the poor and marginalized, actively sharing the Good News, etc.) either here or there; unless you have spent time in Europe, talking to pastors and missionaries, hearing their joy at small victories and their anguish at setbacks, opposition, and seemingly impossible situations; unless you have labored on your knees over Europe, praying and fasting for the salvation of the European people, praying for the missionaries and pastors of Europe, praying for Revival in Europe, prayer walking miles and miles of what’s been enemy territory; unless you have spent thousands of dollars of your own money to answer the call of God; unless you have done at least one of those things, then you have not earned the right to say to me that America has the same problems. Because I have done all of that. I continue to do all of that because the task is not finished. True, America has many of the same problems, but Europe is far worse. So what are you doing about it? What are you going to do about it?
Thanks for letting me blow off a bit of steam! Europe needs more missionaries. Are you sure that you’re not called to Europe?