In times past, the mandate of world missions involved jumping on a boat and going to a distant country where you would travel, either by foot or saddle-back/animal-drawn modes of transport, from province to province, state to state, city to city, town to town in order to reach the ends of the earth with gospel message of Jesus Christ. Now, modern transport removes many of the dangers and time constraints to reach some of the remotest parts of the globe.
The need to welcome
However, world missions also no longer involves ‘going’ (although the need is still urgent) but instead ‘welcoming’ the many peoples from the ends of the earth. In Australia alone, in the last 10 years, the total number of international students that commenced study in an Australian educational institution grew 72.22%. The total number of international students that commenced higher education/university study grew 45.39%; last year, just over 300,000 international students commenced study of some description in Australia, with almost 96,000 at a higher education institution or university.
There is a growing mission field in world missions called the ‘Diaspora’ mission field. It is the mission field of people groups who have migrated to Australia and other parts of the Western world. Rather than the missionary going overseas to another part of the world, they are able to stay and reach out to the many nations of the world coming to our shores with the gospel message of Jesus Christ.
There is a constant stream of people coming to our shores, 300,000 of them are international students who need help settling into a new land and culture. There are thousands upon thousands of other people: refugees, asylum seekers, international professionals, just to name a few. These people are our neighbours, friends, co-workers, strangers in the street, and all of whom need to hear the gospel message of Jesus Christ as much as those across the seas.
The call to welcome
Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers,you did it to me.’
— Matthew 25:34-40 (ESV)
Will you consider welcoming these people as you seek to reach God’s world with the gospel message of Jesus Christ? Will you encourage and challenge others to be involved in world missions right here on their doorstep? Will you pray that God might give you the grace to reach out your hand to those from the ends of the earth?
You could join/start an English conversation group and get your friends involved. You could join a refugee/asylum seeker support group and help those in need as they establish themselves in the community. You could invite them over for dinner, or if you’re game, ask them to teach you how to cook one of their national dishes. Be creative!
- Australian Education International: 2004 International Student Data
- Australian Education International: 2013 International Student Data