I read this post awhile back about the "new fundamentalism" of Christians being bombarded about going and living on the mission field in foreign countries. I can't find the exact post (bothering me!), but it made me wonder. Doesn't God call some of us "to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you,so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody" (1 Thessalonians 4:11-12). I don't feel the call to the mission field beyond short-term - right now. I am open if God calls us but He could very well keep us where we are.
Anyway, "Sent" by Hilary Alan is about God's calling on an upper-middle-class family who sells almost everything they own to go serve God in a Third World country in Southeast Asia. I felt throughout the book a bit of 'I'm an amazing Christian because my family sold everything and lived around poverty. And you MUST do the same thing to be this awesome.' I hope that's not what Alan intended, and I'm sure it wasn't, but that's how it came out while I was reading. That being said, it's ana amazing thing when families DO listen and immediately obey the call of God to serve - anywhere. Please don't mistake that I'm saying this wasn't an awesome feat for this family to obey so drastically; I'm just saying it read as self-righteous.
I did get some really good take-away from this book, though. It's very challenging to read "we wanted to serve God, but we wanted to be able to hold on to our comfortable life, too." I can imagine. I know I have a lot of material possessions and a pretty comfy setting here in Kansas. I do imagine what I would do if God called us to go. It would be a difficult transition. However, we have lived with a lot less in the past; I believe we could do it again. Alan says she felt ashamed that she "had wasted so much time taking care of and worrying about my things." That's a challenge to enjoy the things we've been blessed with but not have them control our life or our time.
She said her family disliked being called radical in their calling and obedience. However, I believe it's not an unfair thing to be called. I believe it's always been a radical thing to follow Christ. It was radical for the fishers to stop fishing, follow this virtual stranger, and become "fishers of men." That's radical. It's OK to be radical!
I love that she says "...certainly God didn't need me to get Muslims to believe. It was all His work. I was just privileged to play any part at all." What a beautiful message. Sometimes I get concerned (worried) that I'm not doing my part and I should have said this to so-and-so. And yes, I should be bold in my faith, but ultimately God doesn't need me. He wants to use me but He's more than capable to do His own work.
In America we get so busy. I feel the rush. Just yesterday someone said that summer is busier for them than the school year. Yuck! I dislike being busy because "when we are busy, we don't have time to invest in community." This is shown in the Bible in regards to Martha and Mary - sisters who welcomed Jesus into their house. Martha ran around getting things prepared while Mary sat at the feet of Jesus, absorbed. Martha wasn't doing bad things but she complained against her sister and Jesus told her that Mary had chosen the right thing - to listen to Jesus while she had the opportunity. I need to remember this; to look for opportunities and remember that things can be cancelled when other situations and opportunities arise.
I love the quote Alan used by Carl F.H. Henry that said "the gospel is only good news if it gets there in time." It is so important that we share the gospel of the Lord when it's time! Now is the time. We've already been commissioned for this work. We in America already have this freedom to do so. And God provides the opportunities to be bold and courageous and loving as we share.
Romans 10:14-15 says How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent?" Such truth and conviction for me in these verses. I've been reading them over and over as I prepare myself to go to Haiti next week. Alan says that most Americans know of Jesus and have the opportunity to hear the gospel. I feel she downplays our responsibility to not overlook sharing the gospel here at home. I believe it's just as important here in Kansas as it is in Southeast Asia. If an American doesn't hear the gospel (and most don't seek it out in churches), their soul is just as lost as a citizen of a Third World country who never hears of Jesus at all. One soul is not more important than another.
We need to be prepared to share wherever we are, with whoever we're with. We are responsible for those. I think Alan would agree with that. If we are called to share overseas, go. If we are called to share at home, stay. Listen to God.
Disclaimer: I received this book in order to write an honest review. All opinions are my own. Others may or may not agree with them.