If you asked anyone on the street what they thought mission was, no doubt they would conjure up ideas about travelling to far flung places, learning new languages and conversions — and who would blame them? The stories we hear of mission are often from the brave among us who have travelled to other countries and have immersed themselves in different cultures.
Our own backyard, however, shouldn’t be forgotten in the world of mission. Rev Dr Karina Kreminski, a lecturer at Morling College, knows this — as an urban missionary, she sees first-hand how communities such as Surry Hills in the heart of Sydney are in need of the gospel, even if they seem resistant or unlikely to respond positively to the message.
“Traditionally,” Karina says, speaking to ABC Compass. “Christianity has moved away from urban spaces and moved more towards the suburbs. We’ve become a very middle class, suburban kind of religion.”
It’s this shift that is seeing so many people within our own communities unreached, despite everyone looking for some kind of connection. Even those who don’t call themselves Christians are looking for ways they can love their neighbours, Karina says.
“How can I see God more at work in my neighbourhood and through my neighbours? How can I even get to know my neighbours to get to know their names?”
Karina might be focused on urban mission, but these questions aren’t exclusive to the trendy Surry Hills area. No, the oft-quoted commandment of ‘love your neighbour’ applies whether you’re sitting in a bustling inner-city cafe or if you can’t see your neighbour’s property out in regional Australia.
No matter where you are in Australia or the world, or who you’re trying to reach, there’s one thing that all mission has in common, Karina says. “I think too often as Christians, we’ve jumped towards judging, haven’t we? Or trying to fix, or trying to change, or trying to lead a culture. That’s all fine, but you’ve got to do the work first of listening. That’s really respecting and really loving a culture, I think.”
“It’s amazing what happens when you do just listen and observe and watch. It can actually be quite unravelling, in a lot of ways.”
Even right in our own backyard, whether it’s in the big smoke or out in a rural town, there’s a lot of listening and learning to be done.
Karina’s approach is different from the ideas of mission we might have in our heads, but she’s already proving it can be just as effective. “I’m just trying to be the love of God, and then when I exhibit that and I’m the light for people, people will see God in me and they will be drawn to that light. So, my view of mission is that it’s not primarily about what you do, it’s primarily about who you are.”
Are you ready to engage in mission, no matter where you are? If God is calling you to regional ministry, the Biblical Foundations for Ministry course at our Orange/Wagga Wagga Hub is perfect to prepare you. Enrolment closes this Friday, 13th September 2019. Find out more about the course and the study options available to you.