The Lord proclaimed that His “name shall be great among the nations” (Mal. 1:11). This is the bottom line of missions, that the Lord is glorified throughout the world. Evangelism is a huge part of that decree since it is the way that non-Christian people are introduced to Him.
Fittingly, the missions program of a church should certainly have a vision for worldwide evangelism. If we are not careful, however, our church’s missions program can become an excuse rather than an extension of local evangelistic outreach. As we proudly pat ourselves on the back for our support of missionary efforts worldwide, we can easily ignore that we are not evangelizing at home. At that point our missions program is not an extension of evangelism—it has become an excuse for not evangelizing at home. We should not only be concerned for the “neighbor” on the other side of the world, but also for the neighbor on the other side of the street.
As Jesus commissioned His disciples to carry on His work, He assured them they would not be alone. The same Holy Spirit with Whom He was anointed would be theirs as well. With that kind of power within them, their task had no geographical limits. They were to start locally with Jerusalem, the very city where He was rejected and crucified. They were to go from there to the wider area of Judea. The mention of Samaria implies Galilee to the north, meaning the outer area of Palestine. However, this was just the beginning. They were then to go to “the end of the earth,” which to the apostles would have included Rome, the capital of the empire and the place where people congregated from every part of the known world, to ends of the Mediterranean world. The distance from Jerusalem to present day Gibraltar is almost 2,400 miles. The book of Acts follows the progress of the gospel throughout Jerusalem in Chapters 1–7, Judea and Samaria in Chapters 8–12, and to the rest of the Gentile world in Chapters 13–28.
Now put yourself in the shoes of the disciples. Would it not have seemed strange to go to Rome and beyond with the good news of the gospel while neglecting those in Jerusalem? Strictly speaking, it would have been only partial obedience to the Lord’s command. Their outreach to the ends of the earth was to be an extension of what they were doing in Jerusalem, not an excuse for not evangelizing at home.
God wants the entire world to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ. In addition to sharing the gospel with people on the other side of the world, remember your Jerusalem and Judea by walking across the street to tell a neighbor about Christ.