What comes to mind when you hear the word “long-term missionary“? Jungles? Tribal people? Taking off in a ship without knowledge of when you will return? Super-Christians? The word missionary brings up a number of different ideas for all of us, but the majority of us would not be thinking “me.” In fact, here I am as a new missionary and even I was not thinking I was one.
In my mind, I was following God’s calling on my life to tell people about Jesus who had not heard of him before. It was simple as that. It did not hit me until a woman at church came up to my husband and I after we had given a little spiel of what God was calling us to, and told us “I’m so proud of you two deciding to become missionaries.” I was dumbfounded. At first, I wanted to argue back saying, “We are not missionaries.” But instead, I smiled and nodded as my worldview of what a missionary was shifted dramatically.
What is a long-term missionary?
I grew up reading the amazing stories of people like Brother Young, a missionary to China and was in awe of these people who were willing to give up everything to spread the gospel around the world. Never in my life did I imagine I would be one. Even in the midst of packing up my belongings in preparation for my new life, I did not think I was a missionary. No, I was just moving to New York City. I am in the same country I was in before. I thought to be a missionary you have to go to another country, to a jungle or desert village. You have to be a doctor and take care of the people who do not have access to medical care. You can’t be a missionary to New York City. There are churches there!
How wrong I was.
Being a long-term missionary in New York City
New York City, like most big metropolitan cities, is full of people from around the world. There are millions of people here from unreached people groups who have not had the opportunity to hear the good news of Jesus. When Jesus commanded us to “go into all the world” in Matthew 28:20, he did not say that we had to leave our own country. In fact, many of the early disciples remained in Jerusalem, speaking to the multitudes of Jews who had not yet heard of Jesus and his work on the cross. You only have to take a stroll through Jackson Heights to realize you are the only person speaking English in a sea of hijabs and skull caps.
The unreached are not just “out there.” They are here.
What is stopping you from becoming a long-term missionary?
Let me rephrase. What is stopping you from telling people who have not heard the good news about Jesus? What is stopping you from fulfilling the Great Commission? Is it your family? Job? Inability to learn a foreign language? Health? I have heard many of these excuses before, some from my own mouth. I challenge you today to think of what it is that stops you from reaching the unreached.
Perhaps you are not called to the depths of the Amazon jungle. Perhaps God is asking you to be a long-term missionary here, in your own country. A country full of hearts longing for the good news that can set them free. The news that can change eternity.