When Ellen and I left for Korea as missionaries in 1961 we were not aware that our families were also deeply involved in missions. Later, we came to the realization that every Christian is a missionary, and some are called to go to other countries. This of course was one of the secrets of the growth of the Early Church – every Christian saw himself, or herself, as a missionary. We also discovered later that both our families were very much involved in missions to the world.
Just recently I uncovered an old paper that was a copy of excerpts from something my mother had written in 1965. At the time she was the chairperson of the world missions committee of my home church, Plaza Presbyterian Church. These excerpts are from her 1965 mission report to the church.
Why do we intrude in others’ lives? Or why do we have world missions? God said, “Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel!” God has called certain men and women to go into foreign fields, some to be missionaries at home . . . we who do not go out to mission fields are missionaries as we live our lives from day to day. We have an influence on people with whom we come in contact every day, whether it is good or bad.
The Koreans told a missionary to go back to America and tell them the basic need of Korea is to unite North and South. “Come back with authority for unification,” one pastor said. As this pastor took a train to a destination father south from Seoul, this pastor always thought that in the same time he could have traveled on the same railroad to his former home in North Korea to see his wife, whom he had not seen in 13 years. We cling to the hope that God will heal this wound and soon North and South will be together soon.
Two things impressed me about this report: first, all Christians are missionaries. If we believe this, the Church in America will be renewed quickly. Second, I was impressed that my mother had even thought about the sadness and the tragedy of the divided nation of Korea. I do not remember talking very much about this with her. Now I realize that God wants to lay a burden on the hearts of all His people everywhere for the divided peoples in the world, those suffering from war, persecution, famine, human trafficking, and cruel totalitarian governments. We all are called to be global Christians, and we all are responsible for the salvation and the freedom of every human alive on today’s planet.