*Please note that this is not a broad statement about all missionaries, pastors, people in general... It is simply my experience and a question I have.
I spent three years in a highschool youthgroup that had a tendency to put those who were interested in or decided to dedicate their lives to full time over seas missions on a pedestal. Granted, missions is necessary and my proverbial hat is off to those who have this calling on their life and obey it. However, for those of us who do not have a passion for or feel a calling to this way of life it was always a bit frustrating and confusing. I'm sure the intention of our leaders was never to make those who weren't going into overseas missions feel as if they weren't serving God, but unfortunately, they brought in speaker after speaker who either implied that or said those very words. I believe that the missionfield is all around us and one person is not serving a higher calling than another simply because he/she is serving God overseas (or in Mexico).
After the second or third time a speaker made this intimation, I, being my quiet, timid, soft-spoken self, very patiently voiced my concerns and questions about this teaching. NOT! The truth is, I got really frustrated and marched up to my youthpastor and said, "what the heck?!" Yes. I know this was not the best approach, but have someone imply or say that you are not serving God in what you feel called to do and see how you react! I was never given a satisfactory explanation, and was told to examine why that bugged me so much.
So... I examined... and examined... and examined (ok, that's probably a slight exageration because, lets face it, i get bored pretty quickly and examining takes a lot of patience and insight that I didn't really have in highschool, and still am working towards).
I was still frustrated.
Why is this so often the case when missionaries speak? I have known so many wonderful missionaries, and I am so glad that there are people in this world with a passion to spread the name of Christ to every corner of this world. But why do so many lay on the guilt trip?
The truth is, God made each one of us differently and he gave us all different passions, abilities, and ministry assignments. Each one of us has been wired by God for different things. What would happen to Christians in the U.S. if every pastor up and left to minister over seas? What would the U.S. look like if every Christian grew up and left it? Every person on this earth matters to God, and therefore should matter to those who love Him. Every person. Including those in the U.S. America needs us to! Yes, we may have freedom, and money, and stuff... but does that mean we are not hurting and desperately in need of a savior? No.
I think I understand why those who decide to move to Afghanistan get more recognition than those who choose to stay in Orange County, San Diego, the Bay Area, and every other city with billions. It is more of a sacrifice to uproot yourself and move to Afghanistan, and granted much more dangerous and culturally difficult. But I would appreciate it if the same encouragement and appreciation was shown to those Christians who God has called to be pastors, school teachers, lawyers, social workers, musicians, stay at home moms/dads, etc. They are doing the work of the Lord, and they are equally as important to the body of Christ.
Please understand that I am in no way belittling the work that overseas missionaries do. That would be horrible of me. I am simply asking that we as Christians not be so quick to elevate one ministry assignment over another and to keep in mind that as much as the corners of the world need Jesus, so does your country. Pray for them and develop a passion for the people of America just as it is so easy to do for the people of much more less fortunate country.
Think about what a better place America would be for those refugees fleeing their countries to find safety here!
P.S. Sorry this is so long.