Jim Elliot, George Muller, Amy Carmichael, William Carey, David Livingstone, J. Hudson Taylor, Lottie Moon, Eric Liddell and hundreds of others have had an important task throughout the years- missions. Stories of their lives fill up biographies, devotionals, novels and even movie screens. Their devotion and passion for Christ is inspiring and uplifting, as you learn about their journey to fulfill the Great Commission. With 46% of Americans claiming to be Protestant Christians, why aren’t we flocking to third world countries and orphanages? Why are we living our day-to-day lives, raising children, visiting parents/grandparents, celebrating family birthdays, etc? The answer is simple, sometimes our mission field is a toddler with a runny nose, a teenager with an attitude, an elderly parent, a confused cousin, or even a friend that feels more like a sister going through a hard time.
Family is an often forgotten mission field. We rush around between all our activities and commitments without stopping to think of the significance of our interactions with those around us. Shifting the way we think about the importance of family (related or not) can change the way we view those people. The toddler will grow up to fulfill his own mission work; the teenager is struggling between the way she was raised and the conflicting world-view she sees every day at school; the elderly parent is scared, lonely, and in need of comfort; the cousin isn’t sure how God could love someone like her, and your friend feels overwhelmed with work and children and is doubting the covenant of marriage. What would happen if we treated these people as a mission field instead of a burden? What if we shared the Gospel and showed the Gospel to them in an intentional way?
Making family a mission field is exhausting, but important. Shadow of the Almighty: the Life and Testament of Jim Elliott, describes Jim Elliot’s family and their emphasis on sharing the gospel and the importance of family in their home. Elliott’s father, Fred, often read and discussed scripture with his children. His mother, Clara, while having an office in the home, considered her children to be her first and most important work. Missionaries were often invited to the Elliot’s home, and Jim learned firsthand about the importance of spreading the Gospel(1). Jim Elliot was courageous in his mission to Ecuador but just as important was his parent’s faithfulness in raising four children in the instruction of the Lord.
Every person we encounter is an opportunity to spread the Gospel. What better mission field than the people we see almost every day? Who better than you and me to give hope and to encourage the faith of those we love most? As a parent, I want the best for my child, but I often need to remind myself what “the best” really means. The best means I give him the Gospel and that I give it consistently. Other relationships require the same: an outpouring from the well that will never run dry. I cannot be everything to everyone, but I can purposely be “on mission” to those I have been placed around. We are commanded to make disciples (Matthew 28:16-20), why not start in our own homes?
(1) Shadow of the Almighty: The Life and Testament of Jim Elliot By Elisabeth Elliot