The American Church is Failing the American Mission Field
I’m a Christian who works on the American mission field. I personally see the damage that addiction and homelessness has caused my generation, and I cringe at the thought that it’s only getting worse. The heroin epidemic is at an all time high, and fake weed is being consumed faster than drinking water. Even worse, drug abuse isn’t just impacting the inner cities of America anymore. It’s in your neighborhood too…behind the closed doors of families who are to ashamed to come forward for help.
Yet, where would they turn for help? Where does a Christian family take their son or daughter for recovery? Where do they send a homeless teen who comes to them asking for food or money? Do they send them to A.A.? Secular rehab? A mental health hospital? Do they put them on pills and hope against hope that the chemicals will take away their character issues? Yes, they do all of this, and I can’t really blame them. This might sting a little, but they’re forced to turn to the state because the American church hasn’t provided them with a lot of answers for these hard cases. I cannot tell if it’s because we’re unequipped to handle the issues of today, or if it’s because American missions aren’t seen as important as overseas missions. I’m not saying that overseas missions aren’t important, because they certainly are. What I am saying is that it’s a tragic mistake to throw our resources abroad when our neighbors are dying in the very streets we drive through everyday.
The problem isn’t just drug addiction either. There’s also a lot of other issues that need addressing in America. The foster care system ages out young men and women daily. These kids have no place to call home, and they have no support in regards to making it out in the real world. It’s so sad to see them flushed down the drain of society once they’re 18. Homelessness is rising too. I think some Christian’s would be shocked to know how many kids in the United States are homeless by the age of 15. Our wealthy communities aren’t immune to suffering either. Kids are rebelling through post modernism more and more each day, as their parents desperately seek answers as to what went wrong. Married couples are struggling. Elders are needing care. Babies are aborted. Sexual sin is eating our teenagers alive. There’s an apathy in the air towards these struggles, and we must work together to attack it through love. How? It starts with caring about the American missionaries who deal with these issues on the front lines of our culture.
I’ve sat in horror while listening to the perspective of some Christians who claim that America is to spoiled for salvation. These people claim that the gospel isn’t needed here like it’s needed in Africa. That’s a dangerous mindset to carry, and it surely isn’t a biblical one. Since when do we punish people for where they were born? We might have more material things in America, but we are just as spiritually impoverished as someone in North Korea or Indonesia. I’ll tell you first hand that there are a lot of Americans who have never heard the gospel, and even more so who have heard a false version of it. There’s tons of families here who need discipleship, and it’s not our job to decide if they’re worthy enough to receive it. People are struggling all around us if we will only open our eyes.
I also understand that there is more of a personal reward for going overseas and building houses for those in need. I’m not against that. Yet, I can’t help but notice how some churches peddle these “missions” for self promotion. You see, if a church has a budget and they use it to fund a small group of people to go overseas for a mission, they get to capitalize on that trip back at home. For them it’s a win win. They stroke a check, and get the pictures to hang on their missions wall back at home. Meanwhile, they don’t have to give an account to anyone as to how those people were taught, or what steps have been taken to make sure they continue to be spiritually fed after the missionaries are gone. I’m not claiming that all American churches have this motive behind their missions, but I am saying that a lot of them approach it through a selfish motivation. Meanwhile, there are missions in their hometown who are deemed less worthy for being American. May the Lord forgive us for such indifference to those whom He has placed right in front of us.
How can I say all of this? Because I am an American missionary? No, that’s not the only reason why I’m convicted to speak up. You see, around five years ago I needed help myself. I was dying from a severe drug addiction, and facing possible prison time. I grew up in the bible belt, yet no one had ever approached me about my sin, or the gospel of grace in Jesus. It wasn’t until I was 21 years old that I heard the true gospel and the Lord changed my heart. Guess what the Lord used to introduce Himself to me? He used an American missionary. I was fed, clothed, and taught the Word because someone in my homeland saw my need and had an answer for it. I’m a living example of what can happen when the church serves the American culture. Thus, we can’t forget about our brothers and sisters who are struggling among us. They’re out there. I promise.
In closing, there are numerous American missionaries who are hard at work everyday to tackle the problems I’ve discussed in this blog. I have seen their efforts and convictions in the face of overwhelming odds. They don’t receive praise for their dirty work. There aren’t any cute photo’s of their service. You won’t see them on the evening news. As a matter of fact, they’re hardly ever heard of….but they’re there….preaching the gospel to those whom the Lord has brought to them. I pray we will reach out them and get involved as well. I hope we will open our eyes to the issues that are plaguing our own homeland. The American church, while doing some amazing things for the people abroad, is falling behind in providing an answer for the sins of its own culture. What can we do to change this?