When meeting with potential partners, we are often asked ‘why’: Why do you want to go to Greece, rather than “fix the problems right here at home”? Now, I don’t question that there is great need here in the States. I’ve worked in affluent suburbs and innercity neighborhoods stricken with poverty and crime. In both situations, there are needs – even overwhelming needs – in our own backyard.
So then, why Greece? When asked this, I often present a litany of preferences and passions (e.g. working with Muslims, teaching the Bible, working with the poor). I do believe that these things are valid. I believe that God has orchestrated our particular gifts, talents, and passions for such a time as this. While we tend to focus on these reasons, however, I think that there is an even more foundational reason for going to Greece (or overseas generally): Matthew 28:18-20, “And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.'”
As followers of Jesus, our call is to make disciples of all nations. This isn’t an optional thing. You don’t see Jesus telling His disciples to go from Jerusalem once they’ve perfected the church (or society) there. While we all may not be called as overseas missionaries, I honestly believed that we are all called to be a part of the Great Commission (Mat. 28:18ff). International Teams has a motto that is relevant here: Give or Go! Living out the Great Commission will take the whole church – some will give (money, time, resources, prayers, etc.), some will go, but we all must be involved.