By Shaq Hardy
The short amount of time that I spent in the Dominican Republic doing ministry to and with Haitians was much needed in helping me see the call of the Great Commission in a better light. Going into this trip I honestly thought God was going to give me a completely different look on the need for the gospel around the world. Especially being an African-American who has never really had international missions on his radar because of the issues I see that still need to be fixed in America within the community from which I came.
However, that is not what happened. I have always understood that people around the world desperately need to hear the gospel. There are billions of people on this earth who have never heard the gospel, many of whom lack the adequate means of hearing the gospel. If what I believe about the bible is true, which I do believe it is, if these people die and never have a chance to surrender to Christ, they will go to hell and spend an eternity separated from God.
Because of this, we must go, whether that’s where we are currently or in a completely different context. This, I have always understood to be true. For some reason, going into this trip, I thought God would change the way I see that. However, that is not what happened. Instead of giving me a new outlook on missions and how missions should be done, God has used this trip in my life to simply pull the lens with which I use to see missions back and show me more and more the necessity of GOing.
In the DR, I got to see Christians asking a lot of the same questions about the bible that we ask even in seminary. I got the opportunity to be a part of conversations with non-Christians whose rejection of the gospel is identical to the rejection of the gospel I see here in America.
The biggest difference there being what they run to instead of God, because they don’t have the same things to idolize that we have here. I got to see a couple of really beautiful beaches, which were right up the road from the most oppressive poverty I’ve ever seen. And of course my internal response is to want to help fix that which I saw as broken around me, but that was one of the biggest hindrances of the advancement of the gospel as stated by the pastors we worked with, as we heard how people were trusting in the money of Americans instead of God.
I also saw many Christians who were in need of encouragement to press on as people would come to us and ask for prayer on various things going on in their lives. You see, instead of a change of perspective on the need for overseas missions, God showed me more and more the necessity of GOing. I now understand why Dr. Akin, President of Southeastern Seminary, urges all students to go on at least one mission trip during their time at Southeastern. I also now understand the urgency in our asking not why should we go but why should we stay.
Answering why we should go is easy, it’s because Jesus commands us too. Answering why we should stay is not as easy for various reasons. However, God can take short term missions, and everyday evangelism to shape our call and show us where too next. Whether we are called to be like Moses and go back to a place we have left, whether we are called to be like many of the prophets in the Old Testament to stay where we are, whether we are called like Jonah to go somewhere amongst a people group we may not be the biggest fans of, or whether we are called to be like the twelve and Paul to go where we may face persecution at every turn, the call is the same and we must answer and GO. And the call to GO comes with the promise of the presence of the one who has all authority in his hands. We have nothing to fear, all we have is to GO.
“This Jesus God Raised up, and of that we all are witnesses.” Acts 2:32