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There’s a mission field in our own backyard

The night on the streets from my college years I wrote about last week continues to stick with me.

The thought about the issue of homelessness began in high school, when I lived in the suburbs and worked near downtown. My bus ride to work each day took me through the heart of Denver.

Amidst the hustle and bustle of daily life, there was a population that existed in the shadows. 

They were the people that asked for spare change on the streets, and most people either dropped a coin in or did nothing, giving little thought to their struggles. Too often I was one of those that did nothing. And it increasingly bothered me, until I felt like I could not turn a blind eye to the problem anymore. 

And it sticks with me yet today, because I know there are too many times I still do this today.

We tend to see missions as something that exists in a far off village overseas, out of our reach. And yet, in the course of life, I often miss the mission field right under my nose.

Paul writes, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10, ESV)

There is never a shortage of hurting people with real, tangible needs you can meet, right where you are at, with exactly what the Lord has given you today. 

In your own backyard, there are people on the streets looking simply for a hand to reach out. There are families going without food. There are single mothers escaping dangerous relationships needing someone to show they care. There are captives caught in a life of addiction, simply looking for one caring soul to extend them grace and show them the light of hope.

The clerk in the grocery store and teenager at the drive-through window trying to scrape out a living need a thank-you for their work instead of another gripe about a wrong order or service that took too long.

The shut-in next door who fears getting sick can always use one willing to prepare a meal or make a trip to the store for them.

Public servants do not need more people griping about the issues. They need people who care about each other who are willing to pick up a tool and step in to make a difference.

Bottom line? If there is a problem you are passionate about, you have a mission field right here, right now. You just have to open your eyes to see it, open your heart to feel their pain, and open your hand to do something about it. And I speak as much to myself as anyone else.

“If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and filled,’ without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?” James asks.

Right now, it’s so easy to get caught up in our own pain and stress. But we were never meant to live in that.

Now, as much as ever, it is essential we not miss the mission field in our own backyards.

Daniel Kiewel is a reporter with the Great Bend Tribune. He can be reached at