My residence is in Washington, but I live in the state of Cognitive Dissonance.
Webster’s defines the term as the state of having inconsistent thoughts, beliefs or attitudes, especially as relating to behavioral decisions. Our subconscious mind gathers facts and trends that often go unrecognized in our busy, over-planned lives. But connecting the threads, I’ve lived my entire life with the sneaking suspicion I am living in the “last generation” of which Jesus spoke in Matthew 24.
In our generation, knowledge has increased, men run to and fro, the love of most has grown cold. It is said there is more information contained in one Wall Street Journal newspaper than a 19th-century farmer would have gleaned in his entire life. And the limits of digital content seem unending. Our well of knowledge and information is truly global — at a moment’s notice. An estimated 2 billion viewers — over a quarter of the world’s current population — watched Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s royal wedding. And in Bishop Michael Curry’s talk, they heard the gospel for more than 12 minutes!
Before evangelist Billy Graham died this year, he had helped take the gospel to 185 countries — truly a global reach. Yet, in spite of Graham’s efforts and packed stadiums, some estimate there are 2 billion people yet to be reached by the good news, with most of these living in the challenging 10/40 Window countries of Africa and southern Asia. Humanly speaking, even with our technological advances, Jesus exhortation in Matthew 24 that “this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come” is indeed a daunting goal.
While growing up, I was inspired by the stories of David Livingstone taking the gospel through the hostile and disease-, snake- and lion-infested mission lands of Africa. I was awed to read the fateful words of Jim Elliot, that “he is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” And, Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s martyr-laden “when Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.” Christ’s Great Commission weighs heavy on willing hearts.
And therein lies my state of cognitive dissonance and guilt. I long to be a part of Christ’s plan to save the world, but I am not currently sleeping in the slums of Somalia or facing martyrdom in the mosques of Mosul.
I worry I’m too content serving Christ within commuting distance of my bed and Trader Joe’s. Extreme mission adventure for me is dropping GLOW (Giving Light to Our World) tracts in a restaurant of Chinatown, San Francisco, during rush-hour! Does Jesus consider the Pacific Northwest part of His mission field? Did He perhaps place me right here for a reason?
I’ve slowly come to believe the answer to these questions just might be "yes!" I am called to live out the Great Commission wherever God puts me. For now, that means right here in my own homeland.
At the recent Wild At Heart Men’s Retreat in Colorado, I heard this inspiring quote shared from author John Eldridge: “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go do that. Because what the world really needs are people who have come alive.”
So preachers, go preach! Businessmen, go manage! Construction workers, go build! Doctors and nurses, go heal! Teachers, go teach! Missionaries, go explore and conquer foreign lands for Jesus!
For nearly two decades, I’ve awakened each morning with the calling to manage a local contemporary Christian radio station, KEEH-FM in Spokane, Wash. I’ve seen firsthand the life-changing difference that can be made simply by pouring daily encouragement and faith into listeners’ lives.
At a recent concert our staff watched one of God’s divine coincidences. A young man walked through the Spokane Arena concourse and quietly stopped at the radio station booth. He was deep in thought, having just watched a newly unveiled video on the Jumbotron that featured a radio listener sharing about losing her child to suicide. Shyly greeting a staff member, the young man began to pour out his heart, explaining he often heard voices encouraging him to take his own life.
Overwhelmed in the face of such emotional need, we were a bit flustered, but then we watched a "God moment" occur. The same mother featured in the video “just happened” to simultaneously appear at our booth. Over the next 15 minutes station staff watched the tearful encounter as this mother ministered to the young man from her own place of grief and woundedness.
We prayed as she explained to him the spiritual battle being waged for his soul, bringing him perfectly timed words of courage as he faced his own darkness. Jesus’ call to preach “this gospel of the kingdom” was happening right in front us, in our own hometown.
When I consider these kind of encounters, my cognitive dissonance melts away. What about yours? Whether considering the mission field yourself or simply in the quiet of your own closet, the time is ripe to pray that the Lord of the harvest sends reapers into the harvest field … even when the harvest field is right outside your own front door.
Editor's Note: As space allows, the Gleaner provides the You Side It section for Northwest Adventist members to share their personal testimonies or inspirational thoughts. The views expressed are those of the writer and may not fully reflect those of the North Pacific Union Conference or its leadership. We welcome submissions of 500–900 words for You Said It.