When most people hear the word “missionary” they immediately think of traveling to a faraway country to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ. While this is accurate, it’s just as true that you and I are missionaries for Jesus, even if we never leave our own country, state, city, or neighborhood! God has called each of us to share the hope of salvation with all people, especially those we already have relationships with and are connected to in our lives.
Since last September, the young adults in SEND North America, the 10-month discipleship training experience, have been learning what it means to be disciples who make disciples. Their training has taken us to many cities in the Midwest to learn and serve, but a constant focus throughout has been our own “backyard.” SEND’s home base is Kendallville, Indiana, and each Thursday throughout SEND training, Sarah, Quinn, and Ze have experienced a local mission excursion. From serving the homeless at The Rescue Mission in Fort Wayne, to raking leaves and building relationships in Kendallville, to worshiping and praying with seniors at Sacred Heart Assisted Living in Avilla, the SEND team has been learning how God uses us, in our own communities, to be His missionary.
As we are now in the final weeks of this team’s discipleship training, we challenged Sarah, Quinn, and Ze to take what they’ve been learning themselves one step further — for their final domestic mission excursion weekend, their challenge was to not just experience a mission excursion but to plan one in their local community! The SEND team hosted Ignite 72, an evening event where teens and youth in northeast Indiana came to learn about mission outreach to their friends. This was an inspirational evening at St. John Lutheran Church in Kendallville, as our SEND young adults led games, served a meal, worshiped, and gave a message to more than 30 teens about igniting the passion for sharing the gospel with friends and classmates. This event gave our SEND team the opportunity to experience leading mission training for others, and it was largely impactful for the teens and youth that attended.
It is a huge blessing and learning experience for our young adults to travel to many ministry sites throughout the U.S. and internationally while in SEND, but it is also invaluable to learn how to serve our great God right in our own circles of relationships, in our own neighborhoods and families. This is one of the most important lessons of all — we are ALL missionaries for Jesus Christ, and sharing the gospel is closer than we think! This past month, I’ve been so grateful to watch how God is transforming the lives of these young adults to not just be disciples, but to be disciple-makers for the rest of their lives, beginning with their own friends, families, and neighbors.
Mackenzie (Kenzie) RItchie
Leader, S.E.N.D. North America