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FIRST-PERSON: Gauge yourself

ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP)–Many people who run out of gas admit they simply forgot to check their gas gauge. Even a quick look at that vital indicator can fend off hours of waiting or walking for help.

The same is true with missions involvement.

We set out to do our part in fulfilling the Great Commission and get so caught up in doing the “what” of missions that we forget to look at Jesus to gauge our effectiveness. It is only when we keep our eyes on Him that we perform at our best.

As I consider the “dashboard” of missions, one indicator that greatly concerns me is that the church seems to be losing ground on reaching the lost.

The worldwide mission field is much different than a generation ago, yet it is also strangely the same. Global commerce and travel are the norm in many places. Unfortunately, secularism and intolerance for Christian ideals and principles are as well. While it is easier now for people to “go” to the mission field, it is often difficult to get them engaged in “going.” Many to whom we used to go are now coming here. With 587 people groups identified in North America, we have even more opportunities to impact the world.

Consider Prasad and Jalil.

Prasad grew up in India where his father was a Hindu priest. When his father chose to follow Christ, persecution followed. The challenges did not stop Prasad from also following Jesus. Today he is starting churches in Louisville, Ky. He is introducing fellow Indians in that city to Christ.

Jalil fled his native Iraq during the Iraq/Iran war in the 1980s, winding up in the United States as a refugee. Lost spiritually and emotionally, he heard the Gospel and accepted Christ. Today, as a church planter in Dallas, Jalil helps current refugees, many of whom are Muslim, with their great needs and introduces them to Christ, the One who can meet their greatest need.

Language, culture and experience easily give these missionaries common ground and connection to those they seek to reach. Missionaries like Prasad and Jalil are vital to Southern Baptist efforts to fulfill the Great Commission, but they cannot do it alone.

What “dashboard” gauges do you need to check regarding your missions involvement? Do a quick review, pull aside to make needed adjustments and get quickly back out on the road.

We’ve got a long way to go and little time to get there!
Richard Harris will retire Dec. 31 as vice president of the North American Mission Board’s sending missionaries group. He was interim president from August 2009 until mid-September 2010 during 29 years of service with NAMB and its predecessor, the Southern Baptist Home Mission Board.

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  • Richard Harris