By Kelly Carr
I distinctly remember the first missionary family I ever knew. There was a kid I grew up with in Sunday school and youth group—one year he and his family left to be missionaries to Jamaica. Missions to my small mind seemed like a far-off concept—people attended church one day and then were chosen to whisk off to a foreign land the next. In those days before technology allowed us to stay so connected, they sent newsletters that would be posted in our bulletins once every month or so. But these missionaries seemed so remote.
When I went to a Bible college my freshman year, I met eager fellow students who were attending school to become missionaries. I realized that missions involved regular people (they were just like me!) who had a desire to reach beyond their comfort zones. Yet they still seemed in a separate category—they were the missions majors, and they had a special calling.
After getting married, my husband and I served several churches over the years, and I got to know more about the missions each congregation supported. I met the missionaries when they’d visit, and I found their experiences fascinating. Parts of their journeys with God were similar to mine, with both joys and struggles, highs and lows, striving to figure out how to share Jesus with people—they just happened to be in parts of the world I’d never been. I realized that being a part of a supporting church was a vital aspect of the missionary journey. They needed prayer and encouragement and funds. By taking part in providing for those needs, I started to see my own participation in missions.
Living in a Mission Field
Now a number of my close friends are missionaries, and I continue to meet and befriend more! One of the places where I’ve met new friends and reconnected with old is the International Conference on Missions (ICOM). Even though I haven’t moved to foreign soil myself, I have found that my heart now dwells on many continents simultaneously because of the relationships I’ve built with missionaries. Through ICOM God has opened my eyes to more of his people all over the world—people made in his image who are in need of his saving grace.
The president of ICOM 2015, Jim Tune, wants to get across a special message to those of us in the U.S.—missions is no longer just about faraway lands. We are living in a mission field. People all around us need a relationship with Christ. Read his article to find out why we are The Away Team and how changes in our country’s culture don’t have to be feared but can be used as opportunities.
I now have a greater grasp on the concept that I am called to be a missionary in my own community. Where is your mission field? How can you be active there and also support those who are called elsewhere?
Teaching the Word
We are excited to have Dr. Mark Scott take on the authorship of “This Week with the Word.” Mark has a passion for teaching God’s Word in various forms—he has served in preaching ministry at several churches over the years and in teaching ministry on staff at Ozark Christian College. We welcome his teaching here as our weekly Bible commentary columnist.