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Do I have to go overseas to be a radical?

Blog reader Brent Howard wrote this comment on my blog a while ago: “As a soon-to-be 40 year old father of two, accounting manager (no geek glasses!), I am finding it very difficult to fulfill the longing to be radically used by God that is in me. “Short-term missions are fulfilling. Worki…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes

Blog reader Brent Howard wrote this comment on my blog a while ago:

“As
a soon-to-be 40 year old father of two, accounting manager (no geek
glasses!), I am finding it very difficult to fulfill the longing to be
radically used by God that is in me.

“Short-term missions are fulfilling. Working in the community to be salt and light is fulfilling. But
there is a sense in me that there is so much more that I need to be
doing to be closer to God – to be used by God and see people changed
and see people loved.

“When I look at Cambodian orphans, I want to get on the next plane leaving Atlanta. If I can get the little Burmese boy in the yellow shirt, I want him! I want to love him and let him know what it’s like to be loved by a father.

“How do I fulfill this longing while stuck in America?”

* * *

Here’s how I’d begin responding:

First we need to put this question in context. “Do I have to go overseas to be a radical?” is too small a question. We need to ask what it will take for us to die happy, content that we’ve done all that God had for us to do on earth.

But let me reach out to my blog readers for some help – how can he fulfill his longing? Please, help Brent out.

Comments (10)

  • Seth – I love it.. indeed the question is to small! But Brent, your heart is big! Listen, after traveling the world for a year, and now returning to what people keep calling “normal life” in America… I think understand your heart here. But listen, there are little boys in yellow shirts right here in America!!! The fast paced results oriented American lifestyle has left plenty of children spiritually fatherless! We are orphans, right here in America!

    We all want to be a part of something great, to be totally sold out and spent for something greater than ourselves and there is NOTHING greater than Jesus Christ!!!

    I was at a restaurant the other day and the couple next to me was so rude to the waiter. It hurt me. I pulled the waiter aside and just told him how great he was doing, and I told his manager the same. Words of encouragement was all I gave. And it changed his world that day! Later a saw a mom struggling to carry three kids and her shopping bags. I offered to help. Her heart lit up. She came alive. And so did I!!!

    Jesus said… LOVE ONE ANOTHER!!! That’s it. That is our task. Love one another in Africa if you are called there, and in America if He has you here!!!

    What would happen in the world, in America, if every youth group in the country had a purpose, a vision, if their hearts were alive and on fire in service to the King! What if they made little track like encouragement cards and went around the city love bombing (like track bombing) people. What if they carried the widows groceries to her car. Took a child to the park. Sat with the sick. What if instead of going to Chilies for lunch after church on Sunday we went into the community, fed the homeless, clothed the poor… held children, loved our brothers and sisters, shared the love of Christ!!! Christ with skin on!

    What would happen if I did, what would happen if you did, what would happen if WE did???

  • Thanks Kelly! That is just the kind of things where I am finding opportunities to serve. Part of my struggle is doing this in the context of the church. Unfortunately, my church (like several others I am finding out) has fallen into the “attendance only” trap of the American church and lifestyle. Trying to encourage and WAKE UP those in my church to join in has been frustrating. God has really shown me (especially in James) where “we” need to quit playing and get serious about being doers and taking care of the widows and orphans. That is where I am now. If I do it maybe someone else in my church will do it. (And btw, if they don’t I’m doing it any way!!) I love my church but just want the bodies to wake up and get radical about following Jesus. If that happened I don’t think I would have much question as to what and where I need to be. Keep sending the ideas!! COUNT ME IN!!

  • Kelly- I love your heart- way to be an answer for those who can’t go but still have a heart to show the love of Christ everyday! I think it’s great you’re starting where you are I started in mission work in the US before God provided the opportunity to go overseas. Kudos to you!

    Brent- it sounds like you have the heart to GO- now you just need the opportunity. We need men like you in Swaziland!!! The situation there is desperate! Here at AIM we’re planning some trips over in the Spring. Would you consider going with me on a vision trip?

    Check out the Swaziland Mission Base blog for more info- http://swaziland.myadventures.org

  • Brent, your not “stuck” in America. God has you just where you are, for such a time as this.
    Father God has given you His heart, His passion and compassion for the orphans. The longing in your heart is the Father’s longing for His children to know, see, experience His love.
    There are “literal orphans” and “spiritual orphans” all around you. Be radical…right where you are.
    Bring the Father’s love into your sphere of influence.
    There are single moms in your neighborhood, at work, in your church. They have children that are starving for a father’s affection. There are men and women in in your sphere of influence who are “spiritual orphans”. They have never been loved. They could sit right beside you in church. They could have the biggest smile and the appearance that they have it all together. Or, they could be the most aloof and unresponsive. It could be a jealous co-worker who bites your hand of kindness. The angry rebellious teenager across the street. The bitter old lady who lives next door. The in-law who acts like an outlaw towards you. Inside their hearts are wounds of rejection and abandonment. It is here that your love will be tested and will grow even greater.
    These people are the walking wounded. Instead of being their father’s “beloved children” their fathers were ….absent, abusive or apathetic. There are people all around you who have never received affirmation, value, approval, acceptance as the father’s children. Adults who… as children …suffered incest, sexual, physical, verbal and mental abuse. Wounds of not knowing, receiving or experiencing the Father’s love.
    Brent, you want the young orphan children to know what its like to be loved by a father.
    Be a radical father who loves all His children…”start right where you are” and love them “right where they are”. Loving those who can’t even return it, to begin with. Love the unlovable. Bring the Spirit of the Son to the orphans, that they may know God as Father.
    God will answer your hearts desire for the “orphaned children” in other nations. He grants you the desires of your heart….for they are His.
    Ask the Lord to send someone across your path for you to invest your life in. Bring radical change even to “one person” in your sphere of influence.
    It’s all about relationship. Or be really radical and start something yourself in your church…neightborhood…workplace. Ask God for a plan..a vision. It’s not whats “wrong” with your church, neightborhood or workplace. It’s where can I bring life. The life and love of the Father. It’s what influence you can bring to change people’s lives. You can make an impact.
    But first Brent..find a Spiritual Father yourself. Spiritual fathers have paid a price to go before you. Glean from their experience and example with the unlovable, the rebellious, and those that feel unworthy. Think of the wisdom, suffering, endurance of Apostle Paul. Wouldn’t you like to hang around someone like him. Priceless! Let a Spiritual Father mentor, disciple, train, equip, discipline you. Be radical here first…everything else will follow. ( hmmmm Seth might be a good example of a Spiritual Father 🙂

  • Thanks for the comments and suggestions. I agree that I am where (geographically) I should be although the desire to go to the uttermost ends will always be there. It appears that I am macromanaging when I should be micro. It is the day-to-day encounters I should be seeking instead of the big move or ministry development. I always try to be available for those daily encounters but don’t seek them out enough. And the mentor suggestion Marg is right on the mark. That’s one struggle I have had – lack of community with fully devoted Jesus followers. Thanks for your insights and experiences. Keep them coming.

  • Live missionally here. Take advantage of the resources you have in America to feed a starving world.

    Get out of debt.
    Sell your possessions and give to the poor.
    Be content with food and covering.
    Downgrade everything you own.
    Live simply, so others can simply live.
    Live a life worth dying for.
    Give beyond your means.
    Ride a bike.
    Kill your TV.
    Start a work place ministry.

  • Wow Justin. I love this line…

    “Live simply, so others can simply live.”

    My husband and I just recently paid off our house and are completely debt free and we are FIRED UP about how we can impact others by giving generously!

    I think I’m taping that saying to my fridge!

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.



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