by J. Randal Matheny, editor
This morning, on my Twitter and Facebook accounts, I wrote, “Breakfast in Alabama, Internet now in Mississippi, lunch in Tennessee, bed in Arkansas. I wanna go home!”
Since mid-September, I’ve been on the road fund-raising in the U.S., to replace support for our ministry and will return home to Brazil Nov. 12. But my light-hearted groaning in the quote above serves as a good reminder of a couple of truths.
First, our world has shrunk in size. Yesterday, I visited my good friends, Mike and Brenda Brooks in Tuscumbia, Ala. They’ve just returned after ministering for three months in Nepal and Bangladesh. They flew from the latter to Bangkok, Thailand, and from there had a direct flight
to Atlanta, Ga.
Where people once thought circling the globe in 90 days was a feat, now we can go anywhere in a day’s time.
People are mobile. They move with ease from one corner of the world to another. Yesterday, one country, today another, tomorrow, another continent.
That mobility presents us with opportunities for the gospel. The more we move and travel, the more we encounter new people. That means we touch more lives, talk to more new faces, have a chance to present the Good News of salvation to more people. Let’s not waste that.
The apostle Paul always dreamed of what was beyond the next hill, of where he might find attentive hearers in the next town. He desired to “preach the gospel in the regions that lie beyond …” (2 Corinthians 10:16 NET). After finishing his task in one place, he’d sense that there was “nothing more to keep me in these regions” and set his sights on places like Spain (Romans 15:22-24).
If the Roman roads and Pax Romana facilitated the spread of Christianity in the first century, how much more should disciples today use the fast modes of transportation and the movement of peoples and populations for the sake of the gospel!
Second, there comes a time to settle down. Calling someone “flighty” is not a compliment. This point doesn’t negate the important truth mentioned first, but Christians need to look out for the interests of a nation, a city, a community.
Much as Jeremiah urged Israel, “Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper” (Jeremiah 29:7 NIV).
John says that Jesus came and dwelt among us (John 1:14). The NET version says he “took up residence among us.” He became a part of the country and its culture. He was sent to the house of Israel (Matthew 15:24). He was so much a Jew of his day (though without their prejudices and blindness), people could not see his as the Messiah and Son of God.
Since we first moved there 25 years ago, we have always called Brazil “home.” It was not merely a job, a place to work, a place to spend a few years and then go back “home to the U.S.” and pick up our lives after punching the clock. We went to seek the peace and salvation of the city.
Paul wrote to the Thessalonians that “with such affection for you we were happy to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives” (1 Thessalonians 2:8 NET). That’s the point. Giving not only what we have, but who we are.
Mobile, but settled. Able to get there, and ready to be available and share the hope of our eternal home.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, it’s time to hit the road again.
by J. Randal Matheny, editor