"Here, there, even there, and everywhere..."
This was Jesus' instruction to his followers and believers throughout history who would choose to follow Him. In Acts 1:8, Jesus calls all of us to be His witnesses “in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
HERE: Jerusalem is home. We make disciples where we live beginning in our own households.
THERE: Judea is regional. It stretches beyond our own town, but may still refer to communities that are not unlike our own. The values are similar, the customs, and dress are probably within our comfort zone... almost a home away from home.
EVERYWHERE: Then the uttermost parts... this extends beyond borders, across cultures, past barrier of language and custom. It is international, cosmopolitan, and requires a journey to get there.
EVEN THERE: Wait... I skipped one... Samaria.
But the skipping was intentional. The people of Jesus' day would avoid the region of Samaria and its occupants at almost any cost. Ethnic strife, lawlessness, violence, political corruption, moral decay, and spiritual darkness characterized Samaria. What parallels the region of Samaria better than the inner-city of a 21st century American city?
We have several reasons to bring groups from around the country to serve here in San Diego.
1) We know that ultimately, we will live in a perfect city of God's making. God will gather His children together in one place where He will dwell with them for eternity.
2) We know that, like a city on a hill, we are called to let our light shine in dark places. We honor God when we do good to draw glory to God. And cities can be very dark places. There is something special about watching the light go on in some of the dark places in our city and we love it when you bring the light with you!
3) We know that the needs here are great... and are so widely misrepresented that most suburban churches have fled with most never returning to face the darkness that fills the void left when the light leaves.
4) We know that the inner city, like the region of Samaria, is where Jesus would be found today... among the obviously impoverished, prostitutes, drug dealers, partiers, the sick, the corrupt... seeing the humanity beyond their appearance and loving them into His Kingdom. Jesus went out of his way to go to this region and to interact with the people who lived there. The first person He told outright that He was the Messiah? A woman from Samaria who had "been around" and was "shacked up" with a guy to whom she was not married.
5) We know that time is short, opportunities to travel to the uttermost are becoming more limited, and money for missions is in short-supply. State-side urban mission trips are finally gaining traction and more believers are asking the important question... "Why do we step over the needy and lost among us to get on a plane or a bus to briefly visit people with the same needs who live thousands of miles away at so great a cost to Kingdom resources?"
6) We know that many youth workers have realized that, when many of their young people think of missions, they only think of a yearly trip to Mexico to build something and play with children who speak a foreign language. This experience doesn't translate very well back into their "Jerusalem" and does little to inspire compassion for the "Samaritans" that exist all around them. Mexico trips are not a bad thing... we offer them as part of our own program. But students leave an urban missions trip empowered and experienced to cross boundaries that have kept them at bay from the marginalized, disenfranchised, impoverished, and needy people right around them.
7) We know that "What happens in San Diego, doesn't stay in San Diego." The simple methods we use for outreach are proving to be more effective than bloated, self-serving events and programs. As we bring more and more people here to serve, we are sending out more and more people who are equipped for credible, service-based outreach.
8) We know that when we work together with other churches, organizations, businesses, and ministries, we are able to leverage our shared resources to accomplish amazing things for the Kingdom that we cannot achieve on our own. As the Body of Christ comes together, we can demonstrate our love in credible ways.
9) We know that "We are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, we need to let our light shine before men, that they may see our good deeds and praise our Father in heaven."
10) We know that San Diego is an incredible city to visit, but is also a place that is filled with people who need to know the love of God. We know that you will enjoy your trip with us and that it has the potential to change your outlook on life, faith, and service forever.