Thursday, September 3, 2020

Your Ministry Is Right Where You Are

When you think of missionary work, what comes to mind?  A remote village in Ecuador or Mozambique?  A hospital in Indonesia?  An orphanage in Haiti?  For some of us, maybe, but for the vast majority of us, our mission field is the street on which we live.  Says Kristin Schell in The Turquoise Table, "Sometimes we are called far and wide on a mission, but more often we are called to love others in our everyday, ordinary lives . . . right where we live: in our own front yards."

Because my husband and I believe that Biblical hospitality is one of the most practical ways to touch a lost and dying world with the love of Jesus, we regularly invite others to share a meal around our table.  Hospitality is something I am quite passionate about, and books on the subject are my most-read non-fiction choices.  I usually read three or four of them every year.

One of the absolute best is The Ministry of Ordinary Places, by Shannan Martin.





We have all probably heard the old song "They Will Know We Are Christians by Our Love," but, quite honestly, love isn't what oozes out of the vast majority of Christians.  Too often, we put on our sanctimonious faces and look down our noses at those who aren't just like we are.  We feel good about ourselves by attending church regularly, reading our Bibles, passing out tracts, and taking short-term missions trips to Central America or our own country's inner-city slums.  And all the while we are looking like such "good Christians," the unbelieving and rough-around-the-edges folks in our neighborhoods feel judgment.  We don't want to pour out love on then; in fact, we don't even want to get to know them.

Well, in The Ministry of Ordinary Places, Shannan Martin makes the case that "the world would not feel so impossible if each of us committed to truly knowing five of our nearest neighbors."  Sharing her own story of wholeheartedly embracing those in her broken and hurting urban neighborhood, Shannan inspires us to stop playing it safe and to really invest in the lives of those around us---and not just with a desire to convert them, but with a desire to really love them!

One of my favorite passages from the book---"What if we all made a pact to not invite anyone to church if we hadn't already invited them over for a meal?"

We Christians tell God that we want to do "big" things for him, that we want to reach the world for Christ.  For most of us, that isn't going to happen overseas or even on a week-long missions trip to Panama (or wherever).  It's going to happen right where we are right now!  In our very neighborhoods---maybe even right next door---there are people living in darkness, people who need to be touched with the love of Christ.  Loving on them is every bit as "big" to God as is loving on unbelievers across the globe.  Why do we so often not see that?

I moved into my current neighborhood a year and a half ago, and, even before reading The Ministry of Ordinary Places, God had put this "neighborhood  mission field" passion  on my heart.  Just like Ms. Martin, "I am hungry to get to know the people near me, and for an introvert with deep mind-my-own-business tendencies, this vast, instinctive departure from my personality is proof of God."

This book is amazing . . . and inspiring . . . and challenging.  Of all the "reaching out" books I have read in the last few years (3 this year alone), The Ministry of Ordinary Places is the one that has impacted me most of all.   By loving the people around us, we really ARE making the world a better place.  I encourage everyone to read this book---and then put its ideas into practice.


Linking to:

Grace & TruthHeart Encouragement, I Heart VerseInstaEncouragements Legacy Link-upLet's Have CoffeePurposeful FaithRecharge WednesdayTell His Story





14 comments:

  1. So grateful for the reminder of this powerful book. Definitely a strong case for showing up wherever we are and making ourselves available for God to use.

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    1. Ah, yes, Michele, making ourselves available for God to use...he can use us just as much on our own block as he can across the globe, can't he?

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  2. My husband is a chaplain and he always states, "Ministry begins at home." He also says missionary work needs to be done right here in America from the Appalachians to the valleys of California. smiles

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    1. Funny, the husband of that book's author is also a chaplain. I guess people in such a profession see the brokenness here at home in a way that many of us are rather blind to.

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  3. The Ministry of Ordinary Places was very meaningful to me too. I don't know that hospitality is one of my natural gifts though. It's something I have to work on. My mother had a real gift for it though, so I had a good example set before me. I just need to follow it more closely. :)

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    1. Lisa, it's actually funny that I believe so strongly in hospitality---because I am definitely an introvert. I thrive on time alone! Even as an introvert, though, I can and do feel the sting of rejection and loneliness, and because I've experienced that so much in my life, my heart is very in tune to that in other people.

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  4. We all have a mission field - and you are so right, it begins at home!

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  5. Patti, I agree completely with you. we don't need to go to far flung places in order to minister. Our ministries can happen (literally) right in our own back yard.

    I loved this sentence: "We have all probably heard the old song "They Will Know We Are Christians by Our Love," but, quite honestly, love isn't what oozes out of the vast majority of Christians"

    Thank you for the wonderful book recommendation. Great post!

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    1. And thank YOU, Meditations in Motions, for visiting and for taking the time to leave me a comment.

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  6. Yes, it is so true that He has a "mission field" right where we are. Within the period of one month, all three of the homes of my closest neighbor connections have sold this summer. When we moved into our home 16 years ago, the neighborhood felt so closed off and dark. But gradually God opened up connections with people who "needed" what I had to give from the Lord. He surprised me and showed me the gifts that I needed from them were just as great. So precious, the ordinary places where His extraordinary love is shared. Thank you for sharing what were such timely thoughts for me this week! Blessings to you!

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    1. Bettie, I bet you will soon develop relationships with the 3 new neighbors you will be getting. You have a heart for ministry where you are, so God is sure to open those doors for you!!

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  7. I think I would like that book, I love your words here Patti. It's troubling that church people are sometimes and many times the most exclusive. Oh so cruel!

    I hear your heart and I agree. Even inviting someone over for a cup of coffee is nice, or just being kind when we see them. We have a lady in the neighborhood who is so rude, we recently visited the church she attends and it almost turned our stomach to see her there. It's like a huge joke. People around here won't even invite others to church... It's kinda sad....it really is.

    We go to an old 40s town with a genuine USO canteen, and I think to myself...Where are the sweet women that I could become acquainted with? Where are they?

    I'll plug this new blog into my bloglovin roll. : ) I don't see a follower list here but I'll be getting your new updates through bloglovin. Let me know if there is a follower list.

    (((hugs))) So glad you're back Patti! <3

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    1. Amelia, thank you so much for visiting my new blog! I missed blogging so much, and I really do feel like I have wisdom to share, so I just couldn't stay away. I do, however, refuse to return to Facebook---too much hatred and name-calling there! I'm going to be writing about the clickiness of churches in the near future. I have seen for myself and heard from others how they go to a new church, and no one even speaks to them. I didn't put the follower gadget on this blog, but if you are unable to find me via Bloglovin, let me know, and I will. Hugs back to you!!

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