With U.S. global migration rates rapidly rising, we no longer have to book a flight to participate in the Great Commission. The American church can participate in international missions right where we are. As a mom and housewife, my mission field is everywhere I am — the T-ball field, the grocery store checkout lane or around my backyard grill. One of my favorite ways to reach the nations without ever driving out of my driveway is to invite the nations into my living room. For the past 10 years, my husband and I have intentionally opened our doors to international friends for special holidays like Easter, Christmas, Thanksgiving and even Cinco de Mayo. In November, we worked with a local collegiate ministry to host a Thanksgiving dinner for 25 international students from China and Saudi Arabia. For many, it was the first time they had ever been invited into an American home. They were excited to learn more about our culture and customs, and we were thrilled to share our table and heart with them. Over turkey and cornbread stuffing, new relationships were solidified that have become springboards for later gospel conversations. Here are three biblical reasons to open your home to the nations.
Living room missions builds gospel bridges.
Currently, about 820,000 international students study in American colleges. The top three countries represented in U.S. universities are China (29 percent), India (11.8 percent) and South Korea (8.6 percent). Of those nearly 1 million international students, 75 percent are never invited into an American home. In their nearly four-year stay in the U.S., 85 percent are never even invited into an American church or have any meaningful contact with Christianity.American churches are missing a strategic opportunity to share the gospel on our own streets. Imagine the number of gospel seeds that could be sown if churches began to intentionally engage international students in church members’ homes. Upon completing their degree, international students would return to their country of origin with more than simply classroom knowledge. They would carry with them the knowledge of Christ.
Living room missions builds bridges between cultures.
According to the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, about 260 of today’s world leaders were educated on U.S. soil. My husband and I live in Pittsburgh, an area dense with academic institutions. One college with which we are currently seeking to establish connections has over 300 Saudi Arabian students. Many are from affluent families. It is our prayer that the simple meals shared with these students might become strategic bridges between our cultures, where mutual understanding forms a foundation for shared ministry. On a bigger scale, consider how an international friendship could impact the attitude and policies toward Christianity at a diplomatic level.
Living room missions builds Great Commission families.
For the person who enjoys mission trips but is wary of traveling with kids, living room missions offers an easy way to engage your whole family in the Great Commission. With unreached people groups in our own backyard, teaching my kids to love their neighbor is as easy as teaching them to love the nations. And hosting different people groups in our home is a tangible way our children can see Mom and Dad living out the Great Commission wherever we are. It is my hope they will be more likely to mirror those efforts as they grow up by choosing friends who look and speak differently than they do and by joyfully obeying God’s call wherever it leads them.Living room missions offers churches and families strategic opportunities to think and live globally. And all it takes is one dinner invitation, with or without the turkey.
Have you ever engaged in international missions from your living room? We’d love to hear how in the comments below!
Melissa Deming is the author of two women’s discipleship books and the creator of the missions and ministry site Hive Resources. She and her husband, Jonathan, along with their 7-year-old twins, Zacharias and Jonah, serve in a Pittsburgh church plant. Melissa has a M.Div. in Women’s Studies from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Wake Forest, N.C., and a B.A. in Journalism from Texas A&M University. Post originally written for women.imb.org.
Published January 15, 2016