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Mission dreams

I always wanted to be a missionary.

From early on, God seemed to be pointing me in that direction. Since I was a little boy, God surrounded me with people who encouraged me to become a pastor. In school, languages always came easily for me. When I was in college and at the seminary, opportunities to reach out to people from other cultures and other languages were constantly falling into my lap.

And I enjoyed every single one of them.

During my seminary days, I would hear the stories of missionaries from the past who traveled to far-off lands or Native American reservations or even the inner cities of the United States, sharing the good news of God’s love with people who didn’t know about Jesus. I would often daydream in class about one day treading where they trod.

I knew being a missionary meant sacrifice. I knew it meant change. I knew it meant getting out of my comfort zone, but that’s what I wanted to do.

At first, it looked like my dream was going to come true. My third year at the seminary, I was given the privilege to serve as a vicar at a church in Monterrey, Mexico. After graduating from the seminary, I was sent for a year to serve a congregation in Mexico City, Mexico, and then was permanently assigned to help start a new mission congregation in Miami, Florida, where I would be serving people from dozens of countries who spoke a variety of languages.

I was living the dream.

Then came Sept. 11, 2001. The economy tanked. Suddenly, our three-man team in Miami had to be cut down to two. Before I could blink, I found myself in a 50-year-old, long-established congregation in a tiny town in Texas named Edna. The church had about one hundred members and was as white as the driven snow. The only language that was spoken was English—unless you count the handful of older members who could say a few phrases in Czech or German.

To make matters worse, Edna was a town of just over five thousand people with 28 churches. What kind of mission work could I possibly do there?

But then I and my congregation looked around. Few churches were reaching out to the Spanish-speaking community in Edna. Wait a minute. I speak Spanish! The residents of the area nursing homes were being underserved. Hey, we can do that! We all had neighbors or friends who didn’t go to church or had gotten away from God and his Word. We could invite them!

You don’t have to go to a foreign land to be a missionary.

So we got to work.

To be honest, not everything we’ve tried as a church over the years has worked, but every Sunday at our church, you now hear Spanish spoken and meet people from other countries and cultures. Every week, precious souls now are being comforted and strengthened at our local nursing homes. Over the years, numerous new faces and new families have found a home in our now not-so-small congregation.

In my 20 years in the tiny town of Edna, Texas, God has taught me a valuable lesson. You don’t have to go to a foreign land to be a missionary. You don’t have to speak another language to do mission work. You don’t have to be a new church to be a mission.

Every church is a mission. Every pastor is a missionary.

Author: Andrew Schroer
Volume 110, Number 12
Issue: December 2023

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This entry is part 1 of 36 in the series editorial-comment

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