Her name was Zipporah and she was
a missionary to America from Israel. She had stopped to visit me at the
office to visit and get a tank full of gas. As far as I could tell, her
message and ministry was biblical. She was born a Jew and had become a
Christian, causing her family to disown her and her brother, Baruk, who
had also become a Christian. We visited about Jesus the Messiah, or Yeshua
HaMashiach, as she called him, about the Hebrew language, which I was
studying at the time, and her desire to see more people accept Jesus. Then
she drove away in her car, which she appeared to have been living out of.
It seemed strange to me that a Christian from a foreign country would come
here to be a missionary. I usually thought of America as the sender of
missionaries, not the receiver of them.
I've heard it said that the day might come when churches in other nations
may start sending Christian missionaries here. I have even heard it said
that it may be possible, if not probable, that some other nation might
become the prominent Christian nation in the world that sends out
missionaries. When I heard these sentiments at a missions forum many years
ago, they seemed far fetched. At the time, most barely perceived the tide
of secular pluralism sweeping through our culture, much less the long-term
impact of it. More recently at a missions conference, several presenters
pointed out how the center of Christianity has been shifting to the
southern hemisphere of our world. The center of Christianity had shifted
from Europe to American but is now shifting to Africa and South America.
In the 19th century, missionaries referred to Africa as the "dark
continent." Since then, Christianity has taken hold in a significant way
in Africa. Some are saying that they day may come when North America is
the "dark continent."
Our position is changing in this country. Christianity with its values and
principles no longer holds sway in this country. Even though it was the
guiding force in forging our government, institutions and culture, secular
pluralism is now becoming the dominant force in public life. This reminds
us that we are truly strangers and exiles here. Our citizenship is in
Heaven and our Kingdom is not of this world.
Many have made that case that we need to see ourselves as missionaries
right here at home. Somewhere along the way, we got the idea that
"missions" was something for foreign countries. However, the book of Acts
shows us that missionary activity was conducted both at home and abroad,
not just abroad (Acts 1:8).
The success of foreign missionaries in the last century was due to taking
the time to understand the foreign culture in such a way as to identify
with and communicate the message on their level. If we are strangers and
exiles here, we need to do the same at home. Some questions to ask would
be things like, "What are some ways we can reach our own community?" "In
what ways can we support and assist local evangelists, church planters,