"How can one believe in him of whom he has not heard? And how can they hear unless someone preaches?" Romans 10:14
Don't you hate it when folks bother you by coming door to door to preach to you?
"Close the curtains, Lisa. Those folks from the (fill in the blank) church down the street are here. There are three of them this time!"
Or, "Goodness gracious, Darrell! It's the Jehovah's Witnesses again!"
"Don't open the door. Maybe they will leave their Watchtower and go on their way."
"But why do they always come in the middle of Christmas dinner?"
"Mama! There are two more of those boys in the thin black ties riding their bicycles down the driveway. Should I let the dog out of the house like I did last time or tell them you aren't at home?"
Perspective is a funny thing, isn't it?
"Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, 'Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?' And I said 'Here I am. Send me.'" Isaiah 6:8
Send me. Now that's a bold statement, especially when you are talking to the God of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and King David, because God controls a pretty wide venue. Most people, even those of us who believe wholeheartedly in what we believe, tend to shy away from that offer.
You've heard all the excuses. You've even used most of them. I have used all of them.
"My witness is how I live my life. I'm not one to talk to people about my faith. I just wasn't made that way."
Really? If we could be truly effective witnesses by how we live our lives the Son of Man wouldn't have had to take that long walk to Golgotha 2,000 years ago.
"I don't mind talking about Jesus to people who want to listen, but I am not going to go knocking on doors. I'm not going to force myself on people. Jesus wouldn't have wanted that. Remember that famous painting of the door without a door knob? Besides, if I offer myself up to be sent just anywhere, I might be sent somewhere I don't want to go. All those missionaries drive by a million lost souls on their way to the airport. I'll just stay here and not evangelize to the lost people right here in my own community."
"Go and make disciples of all nations." Matthew 28:19
"Hmmm. Now that's a tough one. I don't travel much. My digestion gets all out of whack. Besides, my legs cramp up if I sit on a plane too long and airport security is such a hassle and I don't want to miss the U.S. Open or the All-Star game or the Fourth of July. And I just got a brand new grill. I plan to do a lot of cooking out this summer. Maybe next year."
Everything you've read so far applies directly to me. Then there are people like the 250 or so Georgia college students who will be taking part in the Send Me Now program this summer that is sponsored by the Baptist Collegiate Ministries, an arm of the Georgia Baptist Convention. These young men and women are emulating the prophet Isaiah. They have said, "Here I am. Send me."
Boy, they are being sent, too. When I was in college a trip to Panama City would have been a big deal. These kids are going to places like South Korea, Brazil, Russia, Haiti, the Gulf Coast -- even New York City, although those Yankees may be beyond redemption. (Don't get your drawers in a wad. I was teasing.)
There are dozens of groups of students serving near and far this summer. One group of six brave souls, sponsored by Beech Haven Baptist Church in Athens, is being sent to Benin, in West Africa. They have packed everything they will need for the summer in a backpack that will fit in the carry-on space of an airplane. They will travel from village to village, sleeping on the floor of huts and eating what the local villagers eat. They will have no phones, no contact with the "real world" and probably no toilet paper. They will miss the U.S. Open and the Fourth of July and air conditioning.
They will reach out to the Mahi people, who are traditionally steeped in the practice of Voodoo, and will aid the Christian church of Benin, which is in its infancy, by teaching, modeling, and story-telling -- and playing soccer with the youth.
One of them is my daughter, Jenna. I watched with pride -- and a bit of fear -- as she packed her belongings into a bag that is smaller than the one I take to school every day. This is her second summer in the program. Last year she was sent to New Mexico and earned the name "Danger." I can't wait to hear about this summer's experiences -- and the lives that are changed.
"Here I am. Send me."
Please send them back safely. Amen?
Darrell Huckaby is a local educator and author. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. For past columns, visit www.rockdalecitizen.com or www.newtoncitizen.com.