Charity, runs the saying, begins at home. Whatever truth that saying contains cannot hide the suspicion that sometimes it is trotted out to justify a mean and selfish disposition.
The poet, John Donne’s celebrated insight, that “no man is an island” and that we are all part of the continent, reminds us of our obligation to the rest of the world.
International charities highlight the stark needs of a hungry and war -stricken world.
Likewise, the frequency of various church ‘mission trips’ is a life-changing experience for many who learn at first hand of the deprivation in other societies.
Yet charity and mission must not overlook the needs at home.
Novellist Charles Dickens had a character in ‘Bleak House’ named Mrs. Jellyby , who was a devotee of public causes, especially concerning Africa and the natives of Borrioboola-Gha, preoccupations which caused her to neglect herself and her family.
She had forgotten that Jesus’s command about mission begins in Jerusalem, the local starting point for his disciples.(Acts 1; 8).
When a young man, a train -driver, approached the great Spurgeon asking about foreign mission service, Spurgeon simple asked,’ “Is your stoker a Christian?”
Mission begins at home.
A Christian writer recently calculated that within a short walk of the average town church in the United Kingdom there are likely to be 10,000 people, including:
*1,200 living alone;
* 1,500 who talk to their neighbours less than once a week;
*375 single parents;
* 18 pregnant teenagers;
*250 people who are unemployed;
*1,100 people living with some kind of mental disorder;
*100 bereavements within the last year;
*2,800 who have been victims of crime within the last year;
*1,280 people caring for a sick, disabled or elderly relative or friend;
* 1,700 people living in low income households, often without a car.
That’s enough to be getting on with.
There’s a mission -field for love and compassion right on our doorsteps!