By David Jeremiah
There’s a famous story about a prospector who sold his farm so he could look for diamonds. He wore himself out searching the world for the mother lode, finally dying in despair. Later, the man who had bought the prospector’s farm saw a flashing stone in the backyard stream. He fished it out, admired it, and put it on his mantel as an interesting curiosity. A visitor identified it as a diamond of remarkable size. The farmer recalled seeing other such stones in his creek, and his farm became one of the most productive diamond mines of all time.
The first man traveled the world looking for acres of diamonds when they were in his own backyard the whole time.
There are acres of needs in your own back yard.
SHARE ON:We don’t always have to travel afar to find the delights we seek. Sometimes they’re in our own backyard. It’s remarkable how much money we spend taking in the wonders of distant places, while at the same time overlooking nearby points of interest—natural beauties, fun drives, local history, unexplored backroads, nearby attractions, pleasant neighbors, and neighborhood restaurants.
The same dynamic is true when it comes to living in confidence in a chaotic world. We long to make sense of it all and solve the global problems we see at a distance—they certainly need our attention. When we think of the staggering needs of nearly eight billion people across seven vast continents, we’re overwhelmed. The world is distressed, and the combined burdens of humanity can weigh heavily on us.
But remember—the world starts at our doorstep, and that’s where to begin serving the Lord. That’s the pattern Jesus suggested in Acts 1:8: “You shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Our influence should begin in our own Jerusalem—our own home and our own hometown.
Just as there are undiscovered sites around you, there are uncovered needs closer at hand than you realize. There are acres of needs in your own back yard. A part of the ultimate staycation is looking around to see how God can use you “right around here.”
God’s Plan for the World Begins With You
Every stranger is a potential mission field.
SHARE ON:Psalm 139:16 says that all our days were written down in advance in God’s book. The important thing isn’t what we’re going to do for the Lord at a later time or in another place. We’re to serve Him today, right here, where we are.
I read about a man who wanted to plant a church, but his dreams didn’t work out. To make ends meet, he started driving for Uber and Lyft. He soon learned God wanted him to love every single person who got into his car. “I just tried to display the goodness of God to my riders,” he said. “Every day, I felt challenged to plant seeds for the Lord with each rider.”
When he picks someone up, he starts a general conversation, asking the Holy Spirit to guide the way, and he takes the Gospel conversation as far as seems wise. “I’ve given rides to alcoholics, drug addicts, prostitutes, atheists, sick people…. I’ve bought people meals to help them feel loved, cleaned them up after they passed out, and had hour-long discussions after we reach their destination.” He now thinks of his car as a mobile sanctuary.1
God is present right where you are—right around here.
SHARE ON:It can work the other way too. I have a friend who keeps small New Testaments with him and he looks for opportunities to give them to Uber and Lyft drivers, along with a generous tip. “Maybe you have some downtime between riders,” he says. “Let me give you something interesting to read.”
We simply need to pray each morning: “Lord, what do You want me to do today?”
God’s Plan for the World Starts at Home
That kind of attitude starts at home, right where we live. “Lord, how can I serve my family today? What do you want me to do under my own roof?” One woman I know had a sign over her kitchen sink that read: “Divine Service Conducted Here Three Times a Day.” Those who share your roof need your divine service, your godly cheer, and love.
Even those who live alone are nevertheless homemakers, and the environment around us reflects what’s happening within us. Building a clean, cheerful surrounding reflects the nature of God who surrounds us with the beauty of nature.
Now more than ever you can serve others without even leaving your home. Notes, messages, video calls, social media platforms, cooking, baking, and entertaining—all these can become rich ministries. Long before the Lord’s Church expanded to Samaria, Caesarea, Antioch, or Rome, the believers in Jerusalem were “continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house,” as “they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart” (Acts 2:46).
God’s Plan for the World Involves Nearby Strangers
You probably have strangers near at hand too, maybe more strangers than acquaintances. Every stranger is a potential mission field. One day, a lawyer asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10:29) Jesus told a story about a traveler who was attacked by thieves only to be left bleeding in a ditch. The one who saw him, cared for him, and helped him recover—that was his neighbor.
In other words, the neighbor we’re to love might be the needy stranger we pass. I’m not saying we should necessarily give money to every homeless soul at every intersection. We have to help others in the wisest way—but help we should! The needs at our doorsteps are greater than ever, and God can give us the wisdom and wherewithal to be like the Good Samaritan on a daily basis.
Along the way, we’ll be sharing the message of Jesus. Some years ago in Shanghai, a young man named Will Wang wanted to improve his English, so he struck up a friendship with an American expat named Nick. One day, Nick told him, “I used to be a pretty bad man on the streets…. It is [the] God of the Bible who has transformed me into what I am today.” As Nick spoke openly of his faith in Christ, Wang was impressed. But having grown up an atheist, he resisted the Gospel. Later Wang moved to Detroit for university studies. Here he met more Christians, but he still felt that the Bible was a book of fairy tales.
One day Wang filled up his car with gasoline and drove off, leaving his wallet on top of his vehicle. He lost $900 in cash, along with all his credit cards and ID. In his frustration, Wang blamed God for the loss. But the next day a man showed up in the dormitory, asking for him. The man had found Wang’s wallet and was returning it. Wong thanked the man profusely, but he asked, “Why would you return my wallet back to me with the money in it? Most people wouldn’t return it.”
“I’m a Christian,” the man said. “God wants us to love each other as brothers and sisters. I hope what I have done to you today, you will do to others one day.”
That encounter led to something more than a wallet. It led Wang to receive the riches of the Lord Jesus Christ. “It was a divine set up,” Wang said. “It immediately changed my heart at the moment. I felt so touched, and at that moment I instantly believed in God.” The young Asian man was baptized and soon began leading a Bible study.2
We can reach foreign nations “right around here” on our doorstep, sometimes just by staying the course, being honest and loving to strangers, as Jesus was. If you can’t cross the ocean with a passport in your hand, perhaps you can cross the street with a pie and a smile.
T. S. Eliot once said, “The end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started.” Most people enjoy traveling, but often our travels are restricted—by financial limitations, health concerns, world conditions, tight schedules, or providential hindrances. It’s of no concern. In serving the Lord, you don’t have to be anywhere but where you are right now. Look around. God is present right where you are—right around here.
Don’t be overwhelmed by the world, but be burdened for your neighborhood. It’s full of diamonds in the rough—people who need to be discovered and loved. They are in your own backyard.
1“The Mobile Sanctuary,” The Christian Heart, November 9, 2020, https://thechristianheart.com/the-mobile-sanctuary/.
2Roxy Photenhaur, “Lost and found wallet filled with cash led to faith,” God Reports, December 7, 2020, http://godreports.com/2020/12/lost-and-found-wallet-filled-with-cash-led-to-faith/.