BY AEDA CHUNG
This year, Open Door Presbyterian Church (ODPC) designated the month of February as Missions Month, with its “Love This City” series. Between May and December of 2015, Pastor Daniel Kim met with many global and local churches to prepare for the launch of this series. After many weeks of corporate prayer and studying of God’s Word, Pastor Daniel’s heart was convicted of a surprising realization: “Love the cities that I’ve already sent you to.” It was surprising because he was looking for something new. But his heart was strongly convicted to love these cities because we, as a church body, need to love people in these cities more deeply than ever before.
Pastor Daniel pointed out two main obstacles that we need to overcome in order to genuinely love these cities: a sense of entitlement and the issue of convenience. It is very easy for us to get distracted by our daily responsibilities, obligations, and desires. However, he asserted that such self-centered lifestyles and a misplaced sense of urgency prevent us from becoming the loving community that serves as salt and light and keeps us from serving others. We need to be more in tune with God’s desire for those in need and for the world, and not obsessed with the self-consuming lifestyle. In order to overcome these obstacles, Pastor Daniel urged us to keep these cities in our minds and encouraged us to pray for these cities. Then, God will “start moving our hearts, organizing us, and opening our eyes to what He’s doing in these cities.”
Pastor John Cha echoed this sentiment and added that God wants to not only reach these cities, but also reach our hearts, just as He wanted to not only save the city of Nineveh, but also reach Jonah’s heart to feel compassion for the city:
“But the Lord said, ‘You have been concerned about this plant, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. And should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left—and also many animals?’” Jonah 4:10-11.
What “plants/vines” have we attached ourselves to that will just wither away? Is our compassion running out on these cities? How can we have a heart like God’s for these cities?
Think of a city where almost 60% of the population live in poverty and parents are forced to sell their children into slavery just to survive. Think of a city where a particular ethnic minority group is openly targeted, and a mother can easily be taken into government custody and permanently separated from her children for a small bounty. Think of a city where there is rampant government corruption and constant threat of civil unrest. Think of the missionaries — our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ — persevering through physical, mental, and spiritual hardship to bring the Gospel and hope to these cities.
Cities are not merely made up of buildings and infrastructure; cities are made up of people.
“Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” Matthew 9:35-36.
This year, let us intentionally set aside time every day to pray for our brothers and sisters on the mission field, keep them in our hearts, and have compassion for those cities. Through these efforts, may God touch our hearts deeply and show us His life-changing grace not just in those cities, but in our lives as well.