Sometimes when I tell people what I do for a living, my career path – a missionary in Australia – I get some funny looks. “You are a missionary in Australia?” There is this perception that because Australia is a first-world nation then you know what? It’s fine. They’re all good.
This perception is sadly very wrong.
If you live in the same city as people, you live in a mission field.
The Great Commission didn’t say “Go into all the [poor countries]…” or “Go into all the [mostly un-Christian nations]“. We put these boundaries around the Great Commission. We forget that what it actually says is “Go into ALL THE WORLD”. When you read that, it’s pretty straightforward I would say, but because we have our western perceptions of “who needs help”, we discount countries who have money, deciding that money is somehow equal to “being ok.”
As someone who has been to some nations that are devastatingly poor, I have to be frank – they may not have much in the way of earthly possessions, but man do they have a deeper appreciation and joy for life. It’s unbelievable. They have “nothing” according to Western countries yet some of them smile as if they had the whole world. Some of them sing as if the riches of the world were at their doorstep. It’s beautiful.
[MAJOR DISCLAIMER – I am not discounting missionaries being in those places, but rather I am trying to broaden our understanding of missions to see that God didn’t put stipulations on the “where” or the “who”. People are people, and they all need God.]
Tonight, I went on outreach to my own city. Newcastle is an incredible, beautiful city a couple hours north of Sydney. There are beaches and historical buildings in town, beautiful parks and great weather. It’s a fabulous place to live, and I am extremely blessed to be here. The people are lovely, and I am really loving getting to know them and the culture here.
Tonight, I went on outreach, though.
Through our base brothel ministry, I went and saw girls who are really hurting. They are barely holding onto hope, if any at all, and their obvious circumstances seem so difficult. Deeper than that, though, they have been stripped of their dignity, their identity as a most precious and beautiful creation of the God of the Universe. They have no clue how special, how wonderful they truly are, and tonight, my heart broke. We brought the girls fruit and some homemade muffins and tried to hang out with them for a bit while they weren’t working. One particular girl stood out to me and remains on my heart even now.
The truth is that if I saw this girl in a grocery store, I probably wouldn’t think twice about her. I wouldn’t know her story or what she’s been through or how she is feeling right now. Yet, there she is in Aisle 4 picking out some cereal – so normal right?
We all do that in our own cities – we go about our day-to-day lives, and there are people passing us by that are devastated, they are hurting. They need to be given hope. They need a smile or a “hello”, but we don’t think about it. We don’t do that because this is our city — we wait until we fly over to Haiti or India, and then we smile and say “hello” to everyone we walk by.
Why is this?
I am so guilty of this, and tonight, I have been so challenged. I read this quote the other day, and now I cannot remember at all where I read it or exactly what it said. The gist of it, though, was that we should always befriend and love people because more often than not, they are hurting. That’s people. That’s broad, and that’s everyone.
I am so thankful for tonight, and I am humbled. I have so much to learn, and I have so much to grow in. I am so thankful to serve a God that is so unbelievably patient with us!