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Start Here

By Loren HorstLoren Horst

I like the tagline of Hesston College in Kansas, “Start Here, Go Everywhere.” I wish I’d thought of it.

It makes a bold statement about Christian college education as a launching point from which people go virtually anywhere in the world. It implies that a college can broaden horizons, deepen perspectives and add to the ability of persons to make a difference in the world.

Seven years ago VMMissions became intentional in providing a “doorway into missions.” We made a special offer to our own Virginia Mennonite Conference that we would help send persons into missions through other Mennonite mission agencies as well as directly through VMMissions. We offered to help with funding, MST support, and providing general supportiveness from our churches back home. People could start with VMMissions and go virtually anywhere that Mennonite missions has been involved, and beyond.

VMC adopted that offer as the preferred way of sending persons into missions. In the last seven years, our horizons have included nearly 30 countries of the world. Special partnerships have included Mennonite Mission Network and Eastern Mennonite Missions, but we have partnered with others as well. One can indeed start here and go virtually anywhere God is calling!

These 30 nations include our own USA. Increasing attention is being given to work and ministry across the street as well as around the world. A recent dinner in support of Mennonite Hispanic Initiative highlighted the fact that there are now five Hispanic congregations in our conference with active vision and plans to begin more. I have no doubt they will, prompting me to anticipate that more and more Virginia Mennonite Conference will look like the Kingdom.

The old mission “field” language is obsolete when referring only to some remote exotic far-off location. Everywhere is the location of God’s mission and we should expect that every congregation should look like it. We should expect God’s intervention into our lives here as much as anywhere else in the world.

My interest in mission here at home has deepened in recent years as I have become increasingly aware of how desperately our own culture and people are in need of the truly transforming Gospel of Jesus Christ. We would have been the “ends of the earth” to the first-century church.

We have always been needy people too, and no more so than now. When considering the growing spiritual poverty of the Western church, some have even wondered how long it can presume to have the spiritual depth to be missionary at all! “Quit traveling the world, and mind your own store,” some might suggest. I would reply, “As people become engaged in God’s mission here, their eyes are lifted to encompass the entire world! Nowhere is beyond the purview of God’s love!”

Whether we are called around the world or across the street we can expect to witness God’s hand at work in the midst of the complexities of this world. And too, while VMMissions need not and cannot participate in everything that God is doing in the world, we are certainly willing to watch, and listen, and cooperate when we can.