In my mission field, people speak poor or very little English. They can't read the bible, so they rely on me to open it up, speaking it in prose they understand. I often find myself sharing its truths, only to realize my unreached people aren't really listening to what it says. Despite their unruly, God fleeing ways, I still must persist to translate the gospel into a language they can understand.
The language they understand, however, usually includes meeting felt needs. The unreached people I work with are in desperate need of food, drink, shelter and clothing. Their state in life makes the most basic tasks difficult, so they rely on me to help keep them healthy. It's the kind of missional love that isn't noted, applauded or reciprocated by those I minister to.
The best of my work in the mission field is done when I pray for the tender souls in my care. Where I plead with God to give me a heart again for this people group, who are about to wake for the day.
Where is this mission field?
While it might sound similar to the rough terrain of Africa or an orphanage in Haiti - this mission field is right in my own home - in central Iowa. Opposition to the gospel is about to greet me as it runs down the hall in footie pajamas, pleading for sugary cereal.
As the days go by, I realize that this mission field can seem so obvious that it comes off as unimportant. It feels like it could never be as great as the outside callings, where I could minister to the "real" poor and destitute. But as I've meditated over the years about the great commission and those whose hearts God has place in my care, I recognize that the unbelieving children in my own home meet every criteria for the the lowly, despised and rejected that I'm called to minister to.
They have no material means of their own.
They can't read the bible.
They are deaf to spiritual truth.
They are low on society's priority list.
Who will care for these souls?
I will go, Lord.
Many women wake up alongside me in the morning to a mission field inside their four walls that sometimes feels invalid, lacking the "real" poor people that Jesus speaks of. It is right and good to acknowledge God's call for us to seek and save the lost everywhere - in our neighborhoods, our cities, our country and the world. We should see those needs and desire to spread the gospel far and wide. Each person has a unique sphere of influence, through which, they operate as a conduit of grace. But let us not forget the small and young unbelieving people who God has placed directly in our path. It is not at their expense that we go out; but that we nurture, love, share and help them pursue Christ as we invite them alongside us into a world of unbelievers.
If you find yourself in this mission field of your own four walls today, I encourage you to go to battle on your knees like the missionary saints in other nations. I pray that you will fight the battle for the souls through the mundane meeting of needs and unwavering faithfulness of Christ-like love for the poor and needy. That you will translate the word of God clearly into toddler-ese, helping those nearest to you to treasure and trust the Savior. Because for mothers, the first mission field of the great commission starts with the little hand latched at your knees - and spreads from there to the ends of the earth.