A Plea to the Mission-​Minded

There is a people group whose language you may not want to learn.

A group whose customs you may find distasteful, whose dress may offend, and whose values may disappoint. They are worshipers of idols. They raise their children in poverty. Many Christians consider this people group either unreachable or beyond the sphere of their calling.

Why? Because their language is that of white suburbia. Because their customs are as familiar as our childhoods, their dress as unremarkable as the sale rack at Old Navy, their values as fragile as their credit ratings. Their idols are money, possessions, and leisure. Their children starve not for food, but for relationship. And their faces? Their faces look a little too much like our own.

Behold suburbia, the mission field for which our hearts do not break.

We hold suburbanites in contempt as those who have heard and spurned the gospel. Their failing marriages, rebellious children, and quiet addictions stir in us weariness and wariness: This is their own doing. This is the fruit of their commonplace lives of capitulation and mediocrity. Suffering and loss may visit them, but they still drive to hospitals and gravesites in late-​model SUVs. Why should we pour out our lives on the rocky soil of suburban America when, for the price of a plane ticket, we can till the fertile fields of Africa, Asia, South America?

But who are we to say that one soil is more fertile than another? Perhaps this field is yours to till simply because you find yourself already in it. No plane ticket required, no bold geographical leap of faith, just a slow and steady determination to respond well to the call to “love your neighbor.” Literally. Even if their problems are messy, and mundane, and not the stuff of headlines or documentaries. Even if they never soften to the gospel.

It is good for our hearts to break for Africa, for Asia, for South America.

It is good for seeds to be planted by passionate believers in the fertile soil of distant lands. But I pray that hearts might also break for the suburbs, and that God would raise up faithful men and women who will till where the ground is rocky and unforgiving, believing in a harvest that could only be reckoned as supernatural. Pray with me. Ask the Lord of the Harvest, who sows and reaps where He pleases — both far and near.

“‘Peace, peace, to the far and to the near, says the Lord’” —Isaiah 57:19

About Jen Wilkin

Jen Wilkin is a wife, a mom to four great kids, and an advocate for women to love God with their minds through the faithful study of His Word. She writes, speaks, and teaches women the Bible. She lives in Flower Mound, […]

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I have to say that it is unfortunately ridiculous to think that it's only non-​Christians experiencing "failing marriages, rebellious children, and quiet addictions." While I agree with our mission field starts with wherever God has planted us, be it suburbia or the inner-​city or Timbuktu, it's good to keep in mind that we should be encouraging and strengthening one another as disciples of Christ. Loving one another means entering relationships careful of your own prejudices and not making assumptions. I'd be careful assuming that the divorced woman next door is your next mission field. Be a blessing to the people in your path, don't judge them.

    • This does not appear, necessarily, to describe the plight of white "non-​Christians", but that of all who inhabit suburbia. I agree that "mission field" is normally used in that manner. I do not agree that it should be so.

  2. Busted! Thank you for pointing out the mission field near at hand, whose very nearness often provokes me to contempt instead of compassion. The divorced neighbor may turn out to be a sister in Christ who needs my gospel encouragement, but I'll never know if I waltz past her on the way to a prayer meeting for Africa. The supernatural work begins when Jesus opens my eyes to see her as he does.

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