As we talk about Global Missions with Kids, a big topic that keeps coming up is: Do I have to move overseas to do missions?
Today we’re going to look at four different contexts in which we can witness to Christ, including two that fit the cross-cultural definition of “missions.” Regardless of where you live, I believe you can be involved in all four of these areas… without ever opening your passport!
Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the Ends of the Earth
Let’s look at Acts 1:8, which contains some of Jesus’ very last words before He ascends into heaven.
This takes place after Jesus has completed His earthly ministry. He’s died on the cross, rose again, and has spent 40 days with His disciples. Now He’s preparing to ascend back into Heaven. Matthew tells us that around the same time, Jesus gives His Great Commission to “Go and make disciples of all nations.”
Acts tells us that He also says: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
After that, He goes to heaven, and the disciples are left wondering what to do next.
Ten days later, as they gather to celebrate the feast of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit does indeed come upon them, and the Church now has the power to carry out the task Christ gave to them.
Why are we discussing this story? Because Acts 1:8 gives us insight into the locations where Jesus intends for us to witness to Him.
Certainly, Jesus’ disciples truly carried out this mission. In Acts and historical records of the early Church, we see that they were indeed witnesses to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the known world at that time.
Many years ago, I was attending a missions conference in college and heard a helpful interpretation of Acts 1:8 in modern times. The speaker suggested that we can apply these four areas to our own world today.
While I’m not positive this was exactly what Jesus intended with these words, I do find it a helpful way of thinking through where we can be involved in being a witness to Christ.
I labeled the map in the back of my Bible to try to show you where the four different areas are. 🙂
Again, Jesus said, “You will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
First, He tells the disciples to be witnesses in Jerusalem. This area was geographically close and culturally close to them at the time (as they were based in Jerusalem at this point). They didn’t have to travel far, nor did they have to venture into another culture – most people in Jerusalem were Jews just like them.
Next, He tells them to be witnesses in Judea, which is the entire area that surrounds Jerusalem. This area was geographically far... not quite where they were living. So it wasn’t as geographically close as Jerusalem. But, it was culturally near… Judea was also filled with mostly Jewish people at the time.
Next, Jesus mentions Samaria. Though it’s a little farther than Judea, this area was still geographically close compared to “the ends of the earth.”But, it was very different culturally. You may remember from the Good Samaritan parable that Samaritans and Jews did not get along. They had different religious beliefs and family backgrounds. So, though it wasn’t as far away as Rome or somewhere else in the “ends of the earth,” it was very culturally different.
THE ENDS OF THE EARTH
Finally, Jesus commissions them to be witnesses to the ends of the earth – somewhere both culturally different and geographically different from their current homes.
Here’s a graph to help explain this idea (if you don’t do graphs just skip it!) –
What Does This Mean for My Life?
Regardless of where you live, whether it’s in the same town where you grew up or 8,000 miles away… you can be a witness in each of these areas!
Think through these four areas and consider your “witness” in each of the four areas. If you want, pull out your 31 Days of Global Missions with Kids worksheet or just draw the 4 part box on a napkin.
Jerusalem – How do you witness in an area close to you and within your same culture?
The disciples spent most of their time in Jerusalem. These people were similar to them in culture and were close by. For me, this means my home. I spend a lot of time with my family – both my husband and daughter – and they are obviously part of my same culture and are close by to me.
This could also mean your work, church, moms’ group, your kids’ school, gym, friends in your town, or another group/place close to home where you spend time with people who are similar to you.
Judea – How do you witness farther from home but still within your culture?
Is there somewhere you interact with people of your same culture, but it’s farther from home? Perhaps…
- your extended family who live across the state or country?
- facebook friends or your Christmas card list, people who are spread all over the country?
- Or a vacation home in a small town that you visit every summer?
- Or college friends you reunite with periodically for reunions?
Different Culture = Missions
According to our definition of global missions, these next two categories fall into the “missions” category. Pay extra attention to them, as we’ll be talking mostly about these categories in the days to come!
Samaria – How do you witness to people who live close to your home but are part of a different culture?
Are you involved in any kind of ministry to people who are culturally different to you, but ministers to someone living in your own local area? Examples:
- volunteering with a refugee ministry
- launching a backyard Bible club in a multi-ethnic neighborhood in your community
- befriending an international student at your local university
- partnering with a multi-ethnic church in your community. (For example, I’ve attended Korean, Russian, and Hmong church services before.)
- a trip to serve another culture somewhere close to your home. (For example, we live in Southern California and can take day trips to an orphanage in Mexico. Or, some youth ministries do “mission trips” to urban areas like downtown Los Angeles.)
The Ends of the Earth – How do you witness to people in a different culture who live far away from your home?
Finally, the ends of the earth is ministry to another culture that is living somewhere far away. You may still do this in your home or town, but the person you are supporting is geographically far. For example:
- sponsoring a child and writing letters to her
- praying for the whole world
- packing an Operation Christmas Child box to send overseas
- encouraging or financially supporting the ministry of an overseas missionary
- praying and writing letters for the persecuted church
- going on a short-term mission trip
- serving as an overseas missionary
So, think about those four quadrants. How are you witnessing in these four areas? How are your children and teenagers witnessing in these four areas? Is there an area where you’d like to grow?
In the coming days, we’ll be thinking through ideas for growth in these areas, especially with the young people in your life. I look forward to thinking through these ideas together!