News from the Tennessee Valley Religion

Rev. Eric Bell

Why do we need mission work?

What is all the hullabaloo about? People say we need to send money to Africa, Brazil, Honduras, etc. We need to support this Compassion Child or that Shoebox ministry. All this, plus we have missionaries around the world. Why?

Why do we do mission work at all? Because there is a tremendous need.

The United States has about 20 percent of the world's population and 80 percent of the world's wealth. Having been to Brazil on several mission trips myself, I have seen how people in Third World countries live. I have seen them drink from the same Amazon River where they bathe and wash their clothes — and that washes their sewage away. This is one reason they have so many parasites, diseases and infections.

It takes 18 hours to get to these villages by a motorized boat, which is our clinic. Most of the people only have canoes. Their per capita income is about $200 per person, and even if they could get to a hospital or doctor, they could not afford the expense of the medical help.

Second, if we read the story Jesus tells about the End Time judgment in Matthew 25:31-46, he infers that what we do and what we give will be a criterion for our judgment or reward. I should point out we are not saved by our works or our giving, but by our acts of love and charity which are evidence of Jesus Christ having done something in our hearts.

We also do mission work because it follows Christ's example. Jesus went from the Sea of Galilee to Judea, from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan, healing the sick, feeding the hungry, visiting the impoverished and teaching through word and deed. He was trying to reach people for the kingdom of God. If that was Jesus' mission, I believe it should be ours also.

We also need to realize it is God's command to do mission work. In Mark 16:15, Jesus said "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature." Acts 1:8 says, "But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you; And ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth."

So Jesus said to them — and says to us — to go into all the world and to preach the Gospel to every creature.

Local missions include church clothes closets and food pantries, Habitat for Humanity and the Decatur Free Clinic.

Also, many church denominations have means to support missions with churches' combined contributions.

Missions within the U.S. can go beyond our local endeavors. There is still much to do to rebuild after recent hurricanes, for example.

Whether inside the U.S. or outside, to do missions is to show God's love that is in our hearts for all people.

The Rev. Eric Bell, pastor of Tanner United Methodist Church, is one of several local ministers writing religion columns for The Daily. For more information, call Melanie Smith at 340-2468.

Rev. Eric Bell Rev. Eric Bell

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