What is the value of American Christians traveling to foreign countries to do mission work when there are lost souls right at our back door? That is a question that is sometimes asked by brethren. It is true that the Lord’s work locally must never be neglected. A congregation must always seek to reach out to the lost in their immediate area and edify the local members of the church. That is the reason why preachers, elders, deacons, teachers, and every member should be involved in and support the local work of the church as the congregation plans Gospel Meetings, Vacation Bible Schools, evangelism and contact follow up through personal visits, communication, and broadly communicating the gospel through mail, email, the Internet, etc. The local work must never be neglected (Titus 1:5) and quite often the attention to the local congregation and work is accomplished through the cooperation and invitation of preachers and other brethren that do not live in the area. Can a congregation give attention to the local needs and at the same time take the gospel to foreign countries? The church at Antioch was able to do so as they sent Paul out and still preached the gospel in Antioch (Acts 14:26-28). What is the value of foreign mission work to a local congregation?
The local congregation is provided with another avenue to carry out the Great Commission of taking the gospel into the entire world (Matthew 28:19-20, Mark 16:15-16). If the local congregation has the means and ability to send evangelists into a foreign land that there is biblical authority for doing so. Not everyone has to travel, but some are willing and able to do so and supporting that work is biblical.
The local congregation is provided with another avenue to motivate and encourage brethren. Our brethren are not only in the congregation of which we are a member, but our brethren live around the world in other countries and cultures. Brethren in other countries need encouragement because quite often they are living under difficult political or economic conditions. They need our encouragement regarding the fellowship that we have with them, the truth being taught, and to continue going forward (Romans 15:22-33).
The local congregation is provided with another avenue for spiritual growth and vision. Spiritual growth and vision will be seen among those that leave home and travel to a foreign country because of serving in ways that they may not have done at home. The mission trips for Timothy and Silas were wonderful spiritually growing experiences for them as they left their home congregations and helped others come to the knowledge of the truth in other places (Acts 16:1-5).
The local congregation is provided with another avenue to build positive relationships among brethren throughout the world. When Christians travel to another country and work side by side with brethren in that other country they come to know their brothers and sisters in Christ as people and individuals rather than just another culture. The barriers are broken down (Galatians 3:26-29).
Mission work is the Lord’s work and since it is such must be done, supported, prayed for, encouraged, and carried out. During the year 2017 the church at Mabelvale had the privilege of sending some if their members to no less than 7 foreign countries (Jamaica, Haiti, Costa Rica, Cuba, Mexico, Scotland, and Latvia). These and many other brethren have asked for us to return and continue helping them preach the gospel in their country. May God provide many opportunities in 2018.
by Wayne Brewer