Over the last twenty years, I have had the immense pleasure and responsibility to preach the gospel of Christ to those who live across the country and those who live abroad. I have witnessed the great outpouring of tears, joy, and thankfulness when one finally comprehends their lost state outside of Christ and then fervently rejoices knowing their baptism has placed them into His Body where every spiritual blessing resides (Eph. 1:3). There is no doubt in my mind the angels in Heaven rejoice in these events and every Christian should likewise (Lk. 15:10). The entirety of the Bible accounts the mission of God to save mankind from himself through the blood of His Son Jesus who is the Christ (Eph. 1:7). Scripture states, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Mt. 11:28-30). This refers to me. This applies to you. This is intended for the entire world.
Some of us struggle in this command as it applies to certain groups; especially those who do not always look, sound, or even live like us. It resonates in my heart as well. Mission work can break your heart, seeing the poverty of hand and spirit around the world. But what about the VAST disadvantaged mission fields among us? My entire world changed for the better while taking on an internship this summer right here in Berkeley County at a place called Mountaineer Recovery Center. “Mountaineer Behavioral Health began in 2016 providing outpatient substance abuse treatment services to Berkeley and Jefferson County Day Report Centers” opened and overseen by Dr. Jonathan Hartiens (MRC, 2021). Mountaineer bills its 48-bed in-patient facility as a place “where hope becomes reality.” The Church should become a part of this reality.
It may be difficult to grasp just how different some lives are to others, but the reality is such. Not everyone in the United States has had the opportunity to be born to Christian parents who have maintained a household of faith, obedience, and Christ-like standards. Attending Church Camp, being present in Bible Study classes from week to week, and holding positive relationships with other children who have been raised in similar situations. Believe it or not, countless persons have been born into a drug-culture household having no decision over it. Many have found themselves replaying their life story in being third or fourth generation children of addiction. Narrative after narrative of personal betrayal, victimization, or legalities which become commonplace and almost a “right of passage” for them. It is difficult for a large group in our general population to “come unto Me” when this is such a foreign concept to their psyche. True religion which has been undefiled does not exist for many of them (Jas. 1:27).
What if the Church was reminded of its mission to seek and save that which is lost and truly decided to live up to it? (Mt. 28:18-20). Even when it comes to stretching out from our comfort zones to include those who least look, feel, sound, so much less like the rest? (Lk. 10:25-37). We can be such an uplifting benefit to many who desire so much to never live a life of deficit; especially those who did not choose the life, but had it pressed upon them. Remember the words of the prophet, “Here am I! Send me.” (Is. 6:8).
-by Archie R. Green