I write this message tonight from the mission field.
Conditions here are rough. The climate is hostile, the environment is spiritually dead, and the people are hard-hearted.
Every day I wake-up, and look around, and wonder how I will ever reach this people, how I can possibly penetrate the thick darkness they exist in, and open their eyes to the brilliant hope that is out there calling to them.
Some days it feels like things here are beyond repair. I’m not sure I’m making a difference. (Most of the time, to be honest, it’s like bailing out a sinking cruise ship with a plastic spoon with a hole in it).
The hardest thing, is that I am not laboring in an underground Church in China, or in the jungles of the Congo, or in the streets of India.
I am in Suburban America.
Lots of people feel they are called to remote places of the world to minister. They feel drawn to distant cultures and imperiled people who would never otherwise hear the Gospel. They feel an urgency to reach those who know nothing of Jesus. They want to be on the front lines of spiritual warfare. They want to see people get free. They want to see revolution.
That is also why I am here.
There are dangers everywhere in this world, I know. Wherever you go, there are spiritual barriers and moral obstacles; things that make people difficult to reach or hopelessly lost or deaf to the quiet voice of God. Sometimes these things come in the form of guerilla wars or oppressive leaders or rampant violence or deadly disease.
Here, those threats to the soul look like Starbucks and gated communities and shopping malls and smart phones.
The greatest danger to young people here, more than crime or sickness or immorality, is prosperity. It is a wealth and comfort and ease that makes the need for God almost unthinkable. It is a busyness born of success, that leaves them no space for the silence and stillness that can let their hearts be clearly heard.
This mission field is filled with people whose greatest struggle is not that they haven’t heard of Jesus, but that they have heard of Him and decided that He is of little or no use to them. Let’s face it, they have a nice car, a great social life, and an army of Facebook Friends. What do they really need a Savior for?
It’s one thing to sit with orphans from the slums of Kenya (as I have) and talk to them about why they need Jesus; why He wants them free from the bondage of the small life that they are living. In many ways, that’s an easy sell. They are desperate for something better. They know instinctively that there is more to life than what they have and see and know. Their response is often quick and impassioned and decisive.
It’s something else entirely, to sit with a group of upper middle class High School students who have huge houses, iPads in every room and more choices than anyone on the planet, and to tell them that Jesus wants better for them… Many of them just roll their eyes and head to Old Navy or hit their Tumblr.
For people I have ministered to elsewhere, outside of Suburbia, I almost always pray and wish for more for them; that they receive material or physical things, to help alleviate their conditions.
But here? My prayer for the people here, is almost always less; that they have enough removed from their lives, so that they realize their need for God, their dependence on His provision and their inability to have real life without His presence.
That’s my prayer for the lost children of Suburbia. That’s my prayer for you and for me.