T. M. Moore: Identifying and working our Personal Mission Field is crucial to realizing more of the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God. Our prayer is that God will move in the hearts of His people to lead them daily to take up this disciple-making calling, and do those works of ministry that build His Church and advance His Kingdom.
People think about Personal Mission Field in different ways. Stan Gale, a contributor to his website, prefers to talk about our “life sphere”, but he means the same as I do when I talk about Personal Mission Field.
Mark Richardson, one of our Ailbe Brothers, uses the term oikos to refer to his Personal Mission Field. He has been working on his oikos for many years, and in succeeding installments, we’re going to look to Mark for guidance in how we can be more consistent in this effort. Mark has served as a missionary, a pastor, and a visiting teacher in Africa, Central America, and elsewhere.
For now, we want to explore the oikos concept with Mark.
Mark, you have been involved in Personal Mission Field work for a long time, in a good many different contexts. You refer to your PMF as your oikos - the Greek word for house. Why is this a good way of thinking about Personal Mission Field?
Mark Richardson: I use the term oikos is because it means house or home in Greek, and oikos best describes what Jesus tells us in Acts 1.8: We must first go to our Jerusalem and then go to Judea and Samaria, and then the other uttermost parts of the earth.
TMM: Jerusalem being the people closest to us, that is, the people we see most frequently?
MR: It always starts with who we know. One of the reasons people have a difficulty with evangelism is the \ that they get the impression they’re supposed to go to people they do not know. The Lord doesn't even ask us to do that. He calls us to go to people we know; but we must be praying for them before we go. We need to be praying and asking the Lord to show us what it is that these people need. So as we are praying for them, the Lord will show us what He is doing in their lives, and how to bring the Gospel to them.
TMM: Praying for opportunities as well? To start a conversation or share a word of testimony?
MR: Exactly. In missions we look for what are called redemptive opportunities. In other words, things that that take in the lives of the people he Lord has placed in our lives can be redemptive purposes. We can use these opportunities – and I’ll say more about this subsequently – to help people understand what Jesus can do for them.
We can pray effectively for brothers and sisters, moms and dads, aunts and uncles, cousins, friends, neighbors, and coworkers. All of those in our oikos – the Lord would have us share His love with them. Salvation happens as a result of our praying and asking God to open the hearts of those we're praying for, so that will hear and understand the Gospel, and receive it.
So we begin to the process of evangelism seeking the Lord for those within our oikos. By so doing, we daily pursue the Great Commission in our Personal Mission Field, seeking the Lord in prayer to help us reach those He has placed in our path.
As we begin that process of identifying and working our Personal Mission Field, we need to expand our ideas not only of what is important for me to do, but of the vision for reaching lost people Jesus wants us to pursue.
The Lord calls us to focus on those who are within our oikos first of all. And that work has to begin in prayer, every day, and throughout the day.