We all know that God calls many people to go. He calls them to leave behind all that is comfortable and familiar so they can minister in his name. But it’s clear that God also calls many to stay. He calls them to remain in comfortable and familiar surroundings so they can minister in his name. And one favorite example of this is in the tale of the man we call The Gerasene Demonaic. This man had been oppressed by demons, perhaps the saddest and most tragic figure we meet in the gospels. “Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always crying out and cutting himself with stones” (Mark 5:5). But then he had encountered Jesus and, with a word, Jesus had set him free from his oppression.
When this man was freed by Jesus, we are told he begged Jesus to be able to go with him. It’s as if he said, “Please let me remain with you, let me learn from you, let me serve you. Where you go I will go.” This man saw Jesus for who he was and wanted Jesus more than anything. He wanted to go wherever Jesus went.
What has always fascinated me is Jesus’s response. This man begged to be able to go with Jesus as one of his committed followers. He was willing to leave all the comforts of home and family. He was willing to suffer. Jesus could have invited him along. He could have had this man as a committed disciple. I’d have thought this would be an offer Jesus wouldn’t refuse.
But Jesus had another plan. A better plan. Instead of telling him “come,” Jesus told him “stay.” He told him, “Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” This man was to have a ministry, after all, but it was a ministry at home, not a ministry away. He was not called to foreign missions, but domestic missions. And he both heard and heeded that call. “He went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him, and everyone marveled.”
There could be no better missionary to these people than one of their own. This man had the advantage of knowing them, of knowing their place, of knowing their culture. This man had the advantage of being known. These people knew who and what he had been. As he returned to live among them, they could see who and what he now was. And his task was simply to explain what had happened between times. His task was simply to explain what the Lord had done to liberate him from his demons and to liberate him from his sin.
Christian, God may call you to foreign missions. But until then I know for a fact he has called you to domestic missions. And here’s what that involves: Tell how much the Lord has done for you. You need to tell people about Jesus—the facts of who he is and what he has done. But be sure to also personalize it—tell the story of what Jesus has done in you and for you. There’s no better missionary to your friends, family, neighborhood, and culture than you. This is the calling of every Christian: “Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.”