I remember hearing that song when I was a kid…
Please don’t send me to Africa
I don’t think I got what it takes
I’m just a man, I’m not a Tarzan
Don’t like lions, gorillas or snakes
I’ll serve you here in suburbia
In my comfortable middle class life
But please don’t send me out into the bush
Where the natives are restless at night
This has never been my song or my fear. I’ve always been the opposite… Jesus don’t make me stay in suburbia, send me to Africa!
Recently I’ve been hanging out with my friends Jess and Mike and they have inspired me to consider Africa AND the suburbs.
Last year Mike and Jess tried to sell their house in order to move to a bigger house for their growing family of 4. No matter how hard they tried or what gimmicks they used, their house wouldn’t sell. So they just figured that meant God wanted them to stay there for a while longer. They realized that they had lived in the same house for 6 years and the only way they knew their neighbors was by an occasional wave or “How’s it going?” That’s how Mission 5 started. They decided to be intentional in their outreach to the 5 neighbors they have on all sides of them. Mike began taking the boys to go and say hi, Jess baked cookies and they began to invite people to church one by one. As Jess and Mike were telling me this story, I got super excited to see what God was doing in middle class suburbia through two of his faithful servants who were willing to love people.
Just a month ago, Jessica told me, “I’ve built a protective Christian bubble around myself and its just about time I got out!” She and Mike have decided to live missionally. For Jess, that means she wants to take a short term mission trip to another country, but more than that, she wants to take her CHURCH. And for Mike, that means Mission 5. The greatest part about this story is that they are NOT just talking about it, they are doing it. They have approached their pastor and said it was just about time that they had short term missions and the pastor said, “GO! You’re in charge!” For most people, that would stop the idea in its tracks, but not these two. They are stepping up to the challenge though they don’t know how they are going to swing it financially or gather people to go. BUT they are stepping OUT and trusting God who began this work to complete it.
Just yesterday I was asking Jess how Mission 5 was going and she told me that Mike decided to just be up front and ask one of their neighbors, “So what do you believe?” As the family explained their dislike for religion due to the massive amount of hypocrisy found in the church, Mike chimed in, “Me too! I hate religion and hypocrisy!” I can only imagine the man’s stunned face as Mike went on to say that Jesus wasn’t about a religion but a relationship and that he never meant for his church to talk one way and act another. Wow, talk about saying it how it is! As Jess and Mike have committed to pray and love on all 5 of these families, I cannot wait to see what God does with their faithfulness…
Be careful when you tell Jesus to burst your “Christian bubble,” he might send you to Africa or worse yet, your neighbors.