Editor’s note: In honor of World Mission Sunday on October 20, the CatholicMatch Institute asked Catholic writer, Lynn Wehner, to share her work with mission group, Haiti180.
Mission work. The calling of devoted priests who bring Christ and the sacraments to the lost. Mission work. The calling of selfless religious sisters and brothers, who live to feed God’s poor and heal the sick in the most desolate of lands.
So many of us have grown comfortable with the idea that mission work is for the select few. It is for people who want to dedicate their entire lives to serve Christ in an underdeveloped country filled with those who may never have heard His name. It is for people more self-sacrificing, more faithful, more holy than we are, for goodness’ sake!
Yes, mission work IS a responsibility for the ordained, for our dedicated religious brothers and sisters—but for so many more. For through the call of the New Evangelization, mission work is a call for all of us.
I’m blessed to be a part of a group by the name of Haiti180. In this beautiful testament to the love of God and the poor—by a team of missionaries and generous donors—we have been able to build a welcoming orphanage, a world-class school, and a beautiful chapel. A medical facility is under construction right now, and the plan to establish a home for the area’s elderly is developing quickly. We pray that soon, the orphaned children and forgotten elderly of Haiti will be living side by side, showering each other with love.
Yes, mission work IS an undertaking for those who serve the physical and spiritual needs of the poor in foreign countries—but for so many more. For through the call of the New Evangelization, mission work is a call for every nation.
Let me share with you a related—though probably not so obvious—example. Sean Forrest, whose vision led to the establishment of Haiti180, is also a national speaker, retreat leader, and performing artist. Each week, he reaches out to large audiences of people who are in search of the truth. Teens who are struggling to know their worth and the God Who bestowed it upon them. Adults who are looking for a lifeline for their own faith and inspiration for raising their families.
Sean is working every day, right here in cities and towns across the United States, to bring more souls to Christ. And in this activity, he is no less a missionary than when he is holding the orphaned children in Haiti. Yes, this, too, is mission work. This, too, is mission territory.
Maybe all of this comes as a big surprise. Maybe, in our minds, we have confined mission work to a very small space—confined it to specific people in specific geographies. Other people in other geographies. You know, missionaries. Well, maybe God is asking us to dig deeper, because we’re missing a call that is universal.
If this is a new idea for you, be assured that it’s not new to God. He was the one Who gave us nothing less than the Great Commission, calling us to “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations.” All of us, wherever we are, whatever our circumstances, are called to bring Jesus Christ to the world. To be His witnesses. To have a passion for souls.
When the Haiti180 team first spoke to the poor Haitian villagers about building an orphanage, they responded with joy—and a promise. They said that they would be helping with the project every step of they way: “We, too, are called to serve the poor.”
We’re all missionaries, and we’ve all been sent. So if you’re right now wondering when would be a good time to explore the idea further, maybe you already have your answer. For this is the time to begin. To share the gifts you’ve been given to reach out into the mission territory nearest you and make a real difference.
Are you waiting until you are married to tell the world about the Church’s beautiful truth about marriage? Don’t wait! Perhaps you can serve in a parish or diocesan family ministry to share your knowledge and your heart about the glory and virtue of this holy covenant.
Are you waiting until you have children to teach the next generation about the steadfast truths of the Catholic faith? Don’t wait! Surely your parish could use new catechists to instruct and inspire the children of the community about the timeless beauty and integrity of our Church.
Are you waiting until you are caring for an elderly parent to illustrate the Church’s teaching on human dignity at the end of our earthly life? Don’t wait! Maybe you can volunteer now in an elderly home or assisted living facility to bring life and hope to the lonely and lost.
So, who is called to be a missionary? All of us. And where is our mission territory, our call to serve? Everywhere. And when is the “appropriate hour”? Now.
This World Mission Sunday, it’s time to reflect. To ask ourselves: Where are the mission territories in our lives? And what can we do right now to shine the light of the Gospel there? For we are all called to mission work. Called by God to share His love and truth with anyone who wants to listen — and even with those who don’t.
And remember, if it all sounds intimidating, take courage in knowing that God Himself has sent us — He Who created us for this very mission and has faithfully promised to be with us always … “until the end of the age.”
Lynn Wehner is part of Movin’ With The Spirit, Inc., and its Haiti180 team.
She and her family live in Connecticut.