Obedient. What does that word mean to you? What verse comes to mind? For me the verse is Philippians 2:8, which tells us that Jesus “became obedient to death, even death on a cross!”
The Season of Prayer for International Missions draws upon this word, lifting out the word be and calling us to “Be His Hands, His Heart, His Voice.”
As we focus on praying for missions around the world and giving to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, I am reminded that international missions is both there and here. Usually we say “here and there” but I have reversed the order of this familiar phrase on purpose. International missions is first of all there – other places around the world where missionaries are obedient to follow God’s calling. We support them as they go there – wherever “there” is in the world – as we pray and give. The 2012 “Obedient” prayer guide is a great place to start!
Another great resource is the missionary prayer calendar found in Missions Mosaic. The abbreviations in the prayer calendar remind us that our missionaries now focus on people groups wherever they may be found. The reality of this struck me a few years ago when I received a Christmas card from a Kentucky friend who married a Japanese man and told about taking their children to visit Japanese cousins in Brazil. People groups are about the cultural and ethnic backgrounds of the people, not their geographic location.
International missions is also here. From high school and college students who have come to this country to attend school, to families who have come here for employment and/or to make this country their new home, international missions is here.
A few weeks ago, I attended a picnic for first year international students at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Also invited were three high school students who are international exchange students. I talked at length with the sponsor of two of the girls. She told me that God had spoken to her about the need to reach out to internationals. She said, “I could spend the money it takes to host these students and go on a two-week mission trip overseas, but for the same money, I get them for nine months.”
Students who have stayed with this family were not Christians when they arrived, but in the course of being with the family, attending youth activities at the church, and meeting Christian students, they have all come to faith in Christ. Many continue to stay in touch and the ministry of this family touches the world. They were obedient to God’s call to international missions here.
Likewise Baptist Campus Ministries across Kentucky work with international students on our college and university campuses. Through weekly Bible studies, English classes, and many other events, we are doing international missions here. Engage, our international student conference held each November, is one way that we use the Eliza Broadus Offering to do international missions here in Kentucky.
Obedient. A word that carries so much meaning. May it be said of us: “They were obedient to God’s call – there and here.”