One Word to Sum Up all of Outreach

This picture represents not quite a thousand relationships but a lot. -LA County Regional Planning Public Hearing 2/19/14
This picture represents not quite a thousand relationships but a lot. -LA County Regional Planning Public Hearing 2/19/14

This article appears is the upcoming Evergreen SGV newsletter.

When I stepped into the role of Outreach Pastor late last year, I knew I had to wait. Before I could recast vision or implement changes in the ministry, I had to sit and listen to our missionaries, our partners, community leaders and most of all, God.

I still have a lot of waiting to do. But from these few months of sitting and observing, I have settled on one word to sum up all of Outreach:

Relationship.

Outreach is all about relationship -relationship with missionaries, relationship with partners overseas and in the community and relationship to Jesus, the One who calls us to reach out and the One we call others to reach out to.

It’s funny because many see Outreach, especially local outreach, as being comprised of programs such as evangelistic rallies, community outreach service projects or short-term missions programs. However, my time has been marked by personal meetings with our missionaries both local and abroad, community leaders and God in prayer. I like to say that my role as Outreach Pastor thus far can best be described as meeting God, meeting others.

Relationships have been key to what God has done through Evergreen SGV in our community and around the world. Our relationship with Don Julian Elementary over the years brought forth the Community Food Pantry and Thanksgiving Celebration. Our relationship with the Workman Mill Association and community leaders brought about the opportunity to testify at a Regional Planning hearing against an adult establishment in our community where multiple violations and crime were committed. Key relationships have spurred and sustained our ministry in East Asia and we are committed to Japan primarily because of our relationships with Ian Nagata, Garrett Inouye, ChildD and the Kagawa family.

Moving forward, I don’t anticipate anything changing Outreach being all about relationship. If anything, new relationships will be developed, existing ones will be strengthened and more friendships will continue in partnership for the spread of the gospel in Avocado Heights/La Puente, greater San Gabriel Valley and to the ends of the earth.

Outreach is all about relationship. But then again, such can be said about any other ministry or the Christian life.

Hopefully you won’t have to wait to discover that.

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Global Outreach vs. Local Outreach

Many times, I have heard people justify their lack of overseas missions involvement with a comment to the effect of, “Why should I share Jesus with people thousands of miles away when there are people in my own backyard who don’t know Jesus.”

It is a compelling comment and something that I have been considering since I began planning for community outreach projects along with the global outreach projects of our church. Here are my conclusions:

  • Loving your neighbor as outlined in Luke 10:29-37 is not an option. We are called to cross cultural, ethnic, religious and socio-economic lines to meet the needs of others and share Jesus with them. We cannot just merely look out for those within our church or faith.
  • Making disciples of the nations with the good news of Jesus is not an option as outlined in Matthew 28:19-20. Jesus left the Church with a mission to make disciples of all nations. We must not quench the Holy Spirit as He moves God’s people to be witnesses to the ends of the Earth (Acts 1:8).

Therefore, global outreach and local outreach are not mutually exclusive things. They are actually both required of God’s people.

So people geared towards overseas missions must not overlook ministry to the unreached in the local community in the same way that people geared towards local outreach must not overlook the mandate to spread the gospel to the ends of the Earth. We cannot make excuses about being involved with one over the other.

Sure, not everybody is called to be career missionaries overseas. But we are all called to be involved with what God is doing around the world, both local and abroad.

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