Acts 1:8 is a verse that can be extremely helpful in shaping one’s understanding of Missions — primarily because it tells us where the mission field is.
This verse states:
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth. (NASB)
There are clearly four areas mentioned in this verse, and each area represents an aspect of missions to which the church should be committed.
This was the hub of the early church. This was the home base. This was the starting place. This was where they were located. This was where their home church would have had the greatest impact. This is where they lived and did business on a daily basis.
For churches today our Jerusalem is the area around our local churches. Depending on the specific location, it could be a group of neighborhoods, a small town, or a suburb of a larger city.
This was the region. The people in Jerusalem would probably have traveled within Judea on a regular basis. Perhaps they had family who did not live in Jerusalem, but if they lived in this region they would still see them fairly often. A trip inside Judea was not uncommon for those living in Jerusalem.
Today, the same principles apply. Our Judea is the region around our churches; but beyond the reaches of daily operation. Perhaps it is the next city or town up the interstate. Maybe it is a rural area outside of your city. It is possible that some cities today are so large that the other side of that city would fall into this category.
This is not just about another geographical location…even though it is that. Geographically this would require a deliberate trip. It would be our country so to speak. But it is much more than that. Almost every time Samaria is mentioned in the Bible it is in the context of cultural differences. It is not just about location, it is also about reaching people who have significant cultural differences than you.
For us it means that we intentionally reach out to other cultures within the USA. There are significant pockets of Hispanics living in the US that need to be reached. There are areas with a high concentration of Jews, or Muslims, or Hindus. Reaching our Samaria is about sending missionaries to other portions of our country, as well as targeting those within our country who have different cultural backgrounds.
Remotest Parts of the Earth
We understand this. This is the part of mission we are most familiar with. It is an emphasis on other parts of the world. NASB translates this as the “remotest parts of the earth.” We are to take the message of Christ to those areas who not yet heard of who Jesus is and what he has done.
Our understanding and application of missions must include an equal focus on all four areas mentioned. To neglect some of these areas is to neglect our responsibility concerning missions.