I better go ahead and put out the disclaimer that I have no issues with God calling people to minister in foreign countries. I have friends who are foreign missionaries and are being greatly used of God. However, my thinking about foreign missions changed when a former pastor with whom I worked exposed me to the idea of supporting nationals (people who are from that particular country) training their own people. The church’s missions money began to have a greater return.
When I went to pastor my first church, I began to focus on the need to share the gospel at home. I have seen so many churches parade church members who went out of the country to share the gospel but would not share the gospel with their next door neighbor. There is a serious problem with this picture. Why do churches raise thousands of dollars to send these people to foreign countries and do nothing at home?
Acts 1:8 is clear about a missionary strategy – “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Jerusalem is Home. Begin there! Share the gospel with the meth addict, the homeless man, the prostitute who works the corner down the road from your house. Spread out a little further to “Judea” (whatever is a little further out geographically), “Samaria” (a little further out and a place of racial tension), “and to the end of the earth” (which does not exclude foreign missions).