I have recently come to understand that many Christians do not get involved in long term missions because of the mystery surrounding what missionaries do. Or perhaps what missions actually is. Or possibly because they feel they have to “sacrifice it all for the sake of the call,” giving up their gifts and enjoyments to live in a humid hut in Timbuktu.

God has given each of us irreversible gifts and callings that he would much rather us use domestically and internationally, rather than ditching them, tossing them aside, and saying, “God has called me to be an overseas missionary.” Lame excuse! Don’t bury the treasure God has given you. Instead, use them to advance God’s kingdom where it has yet to be named.

So here’s a friendly reminder for you: it’s the twenty-first century, and missions really ain’t that mysterious anymore.

“So let me get this straight, you live in the city and travel to the tribal villages, right?” One of our friends asks us the same question every time we sit down over a cup of coffee and conversation on missional living abroad. He just can’t seem to get the simplicity of it, that cross cultural missions is essentially exporting the church’s local ministries to foreign soil.

Does that thought take away for you some of the mystery of missions?

Unfortunately many Christians who remain at home to fulfill their callings mistake the simplicity of the cross cultural missionary call. And many missionaries who go overseas are unable to express that their own ministries are simply exported styles of domestic ministry (with a twist, of course, considering issues of language and cultural relevance) onto foreign soil.

Verge Network is again spot on as John Piper shares his thoughts on the simplicity of Domestic Ministries vs Frontier Missions.

The point is this: there are regions in the 10/40 Window—for which my wife and I are extremely passionate—where people have yet to hear the name of Jesus. They are unreached and unengaged people groups and ethnic minorities. And the rhetorical question Oswald J. Smith asks resonates in our souls, “Why should anyone hear the gospel twice, before everyone has heard it once?”

“Why should anyone hear the gospel twice, before everyone has heard it once?”

Cross cultural missions simply says, “God, I care so much about you that I want worship to be offered to you not only from my hometown, but in every nation and people group.”

Right now it does not. Worship does not rise to heaven from the Kongge people, and the Dai and the Bouyei, and 6,900 other people groups. That’s a major bloc of unreached people groups still waiting to hear about Jesus Christ—yet to bring him praise from their own culture.

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Let’s recap:

  • God deserves worship from every corner of the globe.
  • There are places where worship does not rise to him because the people groups have never heard of Jesus.
  • God has given you gifts and callings to help usher in worship to God either domestically or internationally.
  • You don’t need to toss out your gifts and talents to be used by God overseas.

Go, send or disobey. If you’re a Christian then you’ve got to find a way to be involved in God’s epic missional storyline.

Not that confusing right?

Your next step is to find a ministry that you can be involved with that is reaching the last remaining unreached people groups in the 10/40 Window.


Here’s a little more on God’s heart for both local and foreign missions:

From Driving Convictions Behind Foreign Missions, by John Piper and Tom Steller


Conviction #7—Domestic Ministries Are the Goal of Frontier Missions.

This conviction addresses the tension that develops in a mission-driven church between those who have a passion for ministering here to our own desperately needy culture, and the radical advocates of taking the gospel where they don’t even have access to the Source of any ministry at all.

By domestic ministries I mean all the ministries that we should do among the people in our own culture. For example, ministries relating to evangelism, poverty, medical care, unemployment, hunger, abortion, crisis pregnancy, runaway kids, pornography, family disintegration, child abuse, divorce, hygiene, education at all levels, drug abuse and alcoholism, environmental concerns, terrorism, prison reform, moral abuses in the media and business and politics, etc., etc.

Frontier missions, on the other hand, is the effort of the church to penetrate an unreached people group with the gospel and establish there an ongoing, indigenous, ministering church.

Now stop and think about that. What this means is that frontier missions is the exportation of the possibility and practice of domestic ministries in the name of Jesus to unreached people groups.

Why should there be tension between these two groups of people? The frontier people honor the domestic people by agreeing that their work is worth exporting. The domestic people honor the frontier people by insisting that what they export is worth doing here. A crucial training ground for frontier missions is on the home front engaging in domestic ministries.

David Joannes
Founder/President at Within Reach Global
David Joannes is the co-founder and president of Within Reach Global, Inc, which serves the advance of the Gospel in some of Southeast Asia’s most difficult places. He is the author of The Space Between Memories: Recollections from a 21st Century Missionary. David has a love for language, culture, and creative writing, and for the last 20 years, he has witnessed God’s Kingdom established in forgotten parts of the globe. David lives in Chiang Mai, Thailand, with his wife, Lorna, and their daughter, Cara.
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