Dr. Craig Kraft
/Tuesday, October 26, 2021
At the end of Jesus' earthly mission, he challenged his disciples, "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth" (Acts 1:8).
We often think of missions as being to the "ends of the earth," but Jesus commissioned his followers to be his witnesses, starting in Jerusalem, right where they were. As followers of Jesus, we are called to do the same thing.
There is a mission field at our doorstep. We encounter people every day who do not know Jesus. And today, like at no other time in history, immigration has also brought the ends of the earth right into our neighbourhood. My next-door neighbours are from another country, culture, and language group.
Now I can be a missionary without leaving my street.
The Mission At Your Doorstep
The practice of sending cross-cultural missionaries has been changing over the last decades. Fewer missionaries are leaving their home to serve God in a foreign country. It has become costly for missionaries to deploy overseas and harder for most to raise the required financial support. When a missionary arrives in an unfamiliar location, they spend years learning the language and culture.
One of the newer developments in missiology is discovering the mission field at our doorstep, right here in our own Jerusalem. In fact, in most cases, we can do cross-cultural missions from the comfort of home, without the costs and challenges of an international move.
What does the mission field look like at your doorstep? How would you describe your neighborhood?
As you think about the people you encounter in life, this may include: neighbours, co-workers, family friends, people you see at the gym, people on a sports team, the person who cuts your hair, the mechanic who fixes your car, or the people you meet at the local shopping center.
Have you ever considered that you might be the first or only follower of Jesus they have met? It doesn't matter if they were born here or abroad, the color of their skin, or the languages they speak.
You may be the first reflection of Christ that they will experience.
This is your mission field.
These are the people Jesus considers to be your "Jerusalem."
Immigrants & My Neighbourhood
Does your mission field consist of immigrants?
If you live in any of Canada's larger cities or the United States, it most likely does. My community is a blend of European and Asian immigrants. Some have been here for several generations, but many have arrived recently and are still learning the local language and culture. This provides excellent opportunities to develop relationships.
When Heather and I moved to Africa in 2005, we were immigrants. We wanted to learn as much as we could about the culture so we could fit in.
Even though most people spoke English, we learned to speak and understand a little Zulu, Tswana, Shona, and Afrikaans to help us learn about the culture and identify with our new friends.
We wanted to hear about their customs and traditions, and we enjoyed welcoming them into our home to experience our customs like a Canadian Thanksgiving dinner. It was a wonderful time of sharing, learning, and exploring.
Many of the people in our neighbourhood are also learning and exploring.
I find that my neighbours enjoy talking about their families, work, culture, and language. When I ask them what their name means, I often learn much more about who they are and about their family. I am learning so much about new cultures, and I love it!
When I share that I am also an immigrant in Canada (moved from the USA when I was 18), it brings smiles, questions, and opportunities to share my story.
We have an opportunity to demonstrate authentic Christianity in the way we love and connect with our neighbours. We have a chance to reflect Jesus, to be his witnesses, right here in our own Jerusalem.
Being a representative or witness for Jesus can be an intimidating challenge. However, as we accept His challenge to go out into the mission field, we are not alone. He promises the power of the Holy Spirit to lead and guide us.
Will you join me in praying that God will lead and empower us to reflect authentic Christianity and be Jesus' witnesses to the people right here at our doorsteps?
Try it, you might have a lot of fun, and you will definitely learn new things as you step into the adventure.
Dr. Craig Kraft is the Executive Director of Outreach Canada. After 15 years of pastoral ministry in western Canada, Craig, with his wife Heather, served with OC in southern Africa before returning to lead the ministry in Canada. Craig is a graduate of Northwest Baptist Seminary at ACTS and a graduate of Asia Graduate School of Theology with a Doctor of Intercultural Studies. His study has focused on diaspora missiology in Canada. His dissertation explores the potential for revitalizing Canadian churches through the practice of biblical hospitality with refugees and immigrants. Craig loves to watch sports, work in the yard & spend time in the woods.