America, Our Mission Field

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Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Tricia Gillespie. Tricia is a lifestyle blogger, pastor’s wife and mother of two. You can normally find her posts at The Domestic Fringe. She goes by the handle FringeGirl on the inter webs and you can connect with her on Facebook or follower her on Twitter. It’s awesome to have her here today.

Most people don’t think America is a mission field. Those people usually live in the South where there’s a church on every corner and their granddaddy is deacon of the First Best Baptist Church.

Now, I know, you’re thinking here she goes, a Yankee picking on the South again, but that’s not it at all. In fact, I’d move to the South tomorrow if I could. For some reason God called us to the un-churched places of the Northeast, at least for this moment. I keep asking God to call back with new directions, but until He does, we are here to stay.

My husband pastored a church in Maine and now we’re planting a church in New York. We haven’t hit growing season yet and it’s been almost five years. I don’t suppose we’ll be a mega-church anytime soon, but we’re not here for that anyway. We’re here to give people hope. We’re here to introduce people to Jesus.

I grew up in the New York City area, the proverbial melting-pot. When you get a whole bunch of people together from a bunch of foreign countries, they bring their religion with them. I’m used to religious people, the kind who attend church on Christmas and Easter and pray when someone dies, but this area of New York is different. Many of the people are not religious at all. In fact, we are the only people on our street who attend any kind of church, even on Christmas and Easter.

People don’t know who God is. Many of them have never even heard the story of Jesus.

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Two years ago, my kids gathered all the other children on our street each Sunday for the month of December. These kids filled my living room and I taught them the story of Christmas, the real story, minus Santa Claus and Frosty the Snowman, although I love a little Frosty.

These kids had no idea Christmas is the time we celebrate Jesus’ birth.

“Haven’t you seen a manger scene?” I asked. “You know, the people dressed up like shepherds and Mary and Joseph and the little baby?”

These children honestly didn’t know. They hadn’t ever heard the true Christmas story and some of these kids were in fifth and sixth grades.

Church happens differently here. Sure, we have regular services, but so often that’s not where the “real” church happens. It happens when I introduce a child to Jesus and when my daughter teaches the kids on her school-bus about creation. Church happens when my husband prays over a dying man in the emergency room and when he shares hope with a woman who just attempted to take her life. Church happens when my son brings his friend food and my daughter invites her lunch table to pray with her. It’s different here. It’s a mission field.

Some days make me want to pack up our house and drive as far as our money will take us. People don’t really accept us around here and more often than not, we are alone. Sometimes I think I know how Jonah must have felt when he ran away. I say that and it sounds presumptuous, silly, and very un-Godly, but running is a temptation for me too. I don’t particularly like it here. I’m different. I don’t fit in.

One of the first things people ask me when we meet is “Where are you from?”

I tell them I’m from our town, of course, and sometimes I even drop names and mention my street, just to make it all official.

“Where are you really from?” They ask.

I feel like a foreigner in a strange land and I’m from the same state.  They even make upside-down pizza here.  It’s the oddest thing – crust + cheese + sauce (on top!).  Who does that?

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This place, it’s our mission field.  It’s my mission field.  It’s America.

When we were in Maine, our town had more witches covens than churches of any kind.  It is dark in these un-churched lands of America, and it is lonely.  Most Christians don’t realize that.  They think everywhere is just like it is in the Bible belt, but it’s not.  I can tell stories, real stories that happened to me, my husband, and my children that are far scarier and darker than any Stephen King movie.  They happened because much of America is rapidly becoming a post-Christian nation, whatever that means.

All I know is people need Jesus.  Without Him, this life is for naught, and if even one person – man, woman, or child comes to saving faith in Christ, than it’s worth it all.

This life, our lives, isn’t about living the American dream, or making money, or building our little empire, it’s about glorifying an almighty God, the one true God.  It’s about showing His love to those around us and introducing them to Jesus.

That sounds so easy, so simple, but when you’re stuck in the Tuesdays and Wednesdays and Thursdays of this life, it’s downright challenging.

There are two things I am absolutely sure of – God is faithful and people need Jesus in a desperate way.

The rest is a bit blurry.  It’s messy and it’s wrought with mistakes and selfishness, joy and sorrow, pain and laughter.

America, this land that we all love and pledge our allegiance to is rapidly becoming a mission field of people who have turned their backs on God.  People who had the truth and yet chose not to believe it, but God is every bit as faithful in America as He is on foreign soil.  We don’t stand alone, because the one who fights for us goes before us.  The battle is His and the victory has already been won.

About the Author

Tricia Gillespie

Tricia Gillespie serves with her husband and children in Central New York. She loves Jesus, her family, and chocolate, in that order. She stops for yard-sales and eats way too many M&M’s. She’d love for you to join her on The Domestic Fringe where she shares life – the good, bad, and ugly – one story at a time.

  • Beverly

    Thank you for this wonderful reminder that the mission field is all around me.

  • danielajoy

    I am stunned that you are describing a town in my state.! It will be like Spain if it isn’t already. This encouraged me at the same time to continue making the everyday opportunities our priority. We may never have a mega church or a church in the traditional sense at all here in Gijón, Spain, but we have to make disciples. I am committed, I am dedicated to share more, no matter if they don’t want to hear.

    • You’re right Dani. It’s all about making disciples. That’s the mission no matter where we are.

  • bearfruit33

    Yes Ma’am, Fringegirl. (In my best southern drawl) “Church” happens when we are living….no matter what city, state or country we live in.

    Praying for you and the rest of Fringefamily.