Friday, July 20, 2012
Going Into All the World...On the Corner
As missionaries for fourteen years, my wife and I lived and worked in three different countries. We took pretty literally the great commission, "...Going into all the world, make disciples and baptize in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit..."
On a recent walk around the block at our home in Raleigh, I passed the school bus stop. A quick glance revealed at least three and maybe four continents of the world represented by the students awaiting the Wake County bus. As I walked farther and entered the supermarket on the corner of Creedmoor and Stonehenge, I saw employees and shoppers from other lands, and heard accents and even languages I did not recognize. I felt at home when I finally heard someone speaking Spanish! I can sometimes understand Spanish better than heavily accented English.
My walk reminded me that not always do we have to go anywhere beyond our own neighborhoods to encounter the world. I often wonder what those folks from other countries think when I try to strike up a conversation with them, or even when I don't try to strike up a conversation with them. I wonder what difference a smile and a nod make, or if these strangers in our midst are used to being ignored and seen through as if they did not exist.
Common courtesy nudges me to be friendly and acknowledge those I see and associate with ever so casually. And the Great Commission reminds me that "in my going," to the corner of my neighborhood or the corners of the earth, I am to be about the work of discipleship. That first step may be just a smile, a greeting, or an invitation to conversation. That's how “mission work" begins, a simple greeting and acknowledgment of the God made creation we call a "person." Maybe our courteous gestures may lead to a conversation or a friendship. It’s worth the effort!
Dennis Herman is the interim pastor at Oxford Baptist Church in Oxford, NC. This article originally appeared in their church newsletter, The Forecaster.