Greetings from Indianapolis! I am here at the International Conference on Missions (ICOM http://www.theicom.org/conference) with Sally, the brains behind GoMissions, European Faith Missions’ new partner in ministry. Sally and I are here exhibiting for GoMissions (http://www.gomissions.eu/), an online bulletin board for matching missionaries with mission opportunities in Europe.
Indianapolis is the cleanest, most graffiti-free city I think I’ve ever seen. And when I commented on that to local people, the answer has come back: police presence. I believe it because every time I’ve gone out the door of the hotel, there has been a police car, either parked nearby or passing by on the street. Every morning at breakfast, there is a group of 5 or 6 police officers who take a break here.
One officer told me that the campaign against graffiti started about 5 years ago, and that it has been an important weapon in the suppression of inner city gangs. I guess I had never thought of it before. My only experience of gangs is limited to the musical “West Side Story.” And I remember that in the first scenes, in fact it’s in the opening credits, the Sharks and Jets dance around marking their turf with graffiti. Anyway, the result is that Indianapolis is both very clean and feels safe.
Meanwhile, back at the conference, the need for missionaries in Europe is still obviously very much misunderstood here in the US. When I point out that even people with running water and modern conveniences need a Savior, almost invariably the person responds that America is also a mission field. I don’t deny the truth of that, but the people who say it tend to be people who are not actively sharing the Gospel here, either. Interestingly, the people who best understand the need for missionaries in Europe are missionaries serving in other parts of the world. They know that Europe is the least Christian continent on Earth.
I wouldn’t say that we should stop sending missionaries to Africa because there is still a need there, but Africa is way more Christian than Europe. In fact, now there is an organization of African missionaries to Europe: GATE, Gift from Africa to Europe (http://gate-mission.org/GATE%20Flyer.pdf).
And many people who say that they feel called to missions say in the very next breath: “But I could never live without running water.” Well, Europe is more likely where they are called because those called to live in deserts love the deserts and desert people; those called to live in the jungle love the jungle and the jungle people; and those of us called to live in Europe love Europe and the European people.
Mission does not automatically equal suffering. The suffering and troubles that Jesus warned about was persecutions. Anywhere you meet the enemy and people influenced by the enemy, you’ll encounter resistance, trouble, and sometimes persecution. Missionaries suffer hardship wherever they are. I have had to learn to sleep sitting straight up on buses, trains, and planes, often missing meals—that’s hardship. Giving up my house, and leaving my family—especially my grandson—is hardship. But I know that I will be compensated:
Then Peter spoke up, “We have left everything to follow you!”
“Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields [and grandchildren]—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life,” (Mark 10:28-30, emphasis mine).
Please, friends, help me get the word out: Europe is a mission field full of people who need Jesus.