India. Syria. Kenya. Turkey. Mozambique. Latin America. As someone who has a keen interest in exploring and travelling, these countries and continents fascinate me. Their natural landscapes, their cultures, their vibrant lifestyles entice me to them. The history of these places and the preservation of historical sites is such an important thing and it really inspires me to celebrate the the diverse history of the world.
I’ve become so fascinated by these places that I have an urge to visit them all, explore different parts of the world and immerse myself in life there. I want to be able to go and visit this wonderful creation that God has given us. It brings me so much joy when I do go and explore the glorious, dazzling world the Lord has blessed us with.
It’s not just the beauty that attracts me to these countries, though. While there are magical wonders to them, there is also despair and hurt. Seeing the injustice and destruction that occurs here motivates me to help, to be a light in the dark lives of the people there and, hopefully, to bring joy to their lives that they thought they had lost.
Sometimes I feel like I am obliged to go, that if I don’t go then no one will go and help these people. And yet, I don’t feel that I have this same feeling walking down the street in Glasgow, and I worry that this is something many people will feel and experience. Why is it that I am more connected to someone 10,000 miles away than someone 10 yards away from me at home? Should I not be relating to them more than someone on the other side of the world?
So often we as Christians are encouraged to go abroad on mission teams to bring the word of God to unreached people groups, and to help those who have far less than what we have. I fear that there is a bad custom among Christians that if we don’t go on mission teams abroad, then we aren’t ‘good Christians’. We hear “I went to teach them, but actually they taught me” stories, how it was a difficult experience but something they would do again, how they slept in mud huts and had to eat rice everyday for three weeks. This is something I have struggled with, trying to tell myself that these things don’t matter, it’s Gods work only that is important.
However, these stories can be heard on the streets of Glasgow today, sometimes even more powerful and personal. There is so much in this city that we have a chance to stand up for, to help people in need and give them hope and joy in their lives. The work we can do in Glasgow, as Christians, is just as important and precious to our God as the work done overseas.
This is not to diminish the importance of overseas mission in any way, there is fantastic work being done and we should be praying constantly for them. But we also need to be praying constantly for our city. Somethings I feel our perception of poverty and injustice is skewed by what we see and hear from abroad. Our city is struggling too. In 2012, 33% of Glaswegian children were estimated to be living in poverty. This is a remarkable figure, yet we don’t seem to be able to see this. There is so much we can do to combat it.
Deuteronomy 15:11 says: “For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.” Notice how it says “in your land.” In Glasgow today, there are those who need our hand. Those who are poor, those who are in need, so many people for us to help and stand up for.
And the wonderful thing is that we have a God who has given us the freedom to do this. It is such a gift to live in a society where our freedom is liberating, yet this freedom is under-used. The Lord is a good God, and we should honour Him by using this freedom in our city to aid those who are needy and helpless.
The Lord’s creation is a remarkable structure, yet there is inequality within it. Our city of Glasgow is a remarkable structure, yet there too is inequality within it. But the Lord has placed people around the world to fight this, and He has placed us in Glasgow. So let’s fight this. Defend those who need defending. Care for those who need caring. Protect those who need protecting. Bring God’s love and grace to our city of Glasgow today.
Words By James Loney