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Monday, November 1, 2010

a plea to the mission-minded

There is a people group whose language you may not want to learn, whose customs you may find distasteful, whose dress may offend, and whose values may disappoint. They are worshippers of idols. They raise their children in poverty. Many Christians consider this people group either unreachable or beyond the sphere of their calling.


Because their language is that of white suburbia. Because their customs are as familiar as our childhoods, their dress as unremarkable as the sale rack at Old Navy, their values as fragile as their credit ratings. Their idols are money, possessions, and leisure. Their children starve not for food, but for relationship. And their faces? Their faces look a little too much like our own.

Behold suburbia, the mission field for whom our hearts do not break. We hold them in contempt as those who have heard and spurned the gospel. Their failing marriages, rebellious children, and quiet addictions stir in us weariness and wariness: This is their own doing. This is the fruit of their commonplace lives of capitulation and mediocrity. Suffering and loss may visit them, but they still drive to hospitals and gravesites in late-model SUV’s. Why should we pour out our lives on the rocky soil of suburban America when, for the price of a plane ticket, we can till the fertile fields of Africa, Asia, South America?

But who are we to say that one soil is more fertile than another? Perhaps this field is yours to till simply because you find yourself already in it. No plane ticket required, no bold geographical leap of faith, just a slow and steady determination to respond well to the call to “love your neighbor.” Literally. Even if their problems are messy, and mundane, and not the stuff of headlines or documentaries. Even if they never soften to the gospel.

It is good for our hearts to break for Africa, for Asia, for South America. It is good for seeds to be planted by passionate believers in the fertile soil of distant lands. But I pray that hearts might also break for the suburbs, and that God would raise up faithful men and women who will till where the ground is rocky and unforgiving, believing for a harvest that could only be reckoned as supernatural. Pray with me. Ask the Lord of the Harvest, who sows and reaps where He pleases – both far and near.

Isaiah 57:19 …”Peace, peace, to the far and to the near,” says the Lord


  1. Jen, this is really good and really convicting. I find myself so often just dismissing this ripe harvest because it feels so far gone. It is easier to just go about my work, pursuing simplicity in my own life, than it is to recognize the missional opportunities next door.

  2. Amen. May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope! Thank you for the reminder and strong encouragement of Gods heart for all of the world, especially the people we have become numb and even somewhat bitter (even though like you said we are so similar!) towards. It is so much easier to love people from other countries sometimes. And what reward is there for that - that is not loving. May we pray to be so filled with the hope and joy of the gospel that His love overflows to the places that we live and we feel His deep desire and burdens for people. Thanks Jen.

  3. oh, this was sooo good to read!!! you are dead on!!! it's important to have a heart for our own country, our own neighbors...hello! I have been Oprah. Suburbs (which I grew up in) are cray-cray. Thank you for sharing your heart and writing this post! xo

  4. =)!!!!!!
    My name is Ruth and I'm a senior at Cornell Univ wondering what I will do once I graduate! This post was very timely for me. Thanks for honestly sharing the truth that is so easily pushed out of our hearts--i.e., a truly holistic picture of God's Kingdom and the call for faithful workers to spread His Gospel.

  5. Well said and much needed to be said. We live in a mission field everyday no matter where we live but that is forgotten on most days.

  6. Somehow came across your blog and just wanted to comment b/c I so appreciate this post. Suburbia needs the shalom of Christ, too. You make a great plea for those of us living here in the midst of it to recognize our mission field and minister to the less apparent but no less significant needs around us. Thanks for giving me a renewed sense of purpose.