My wife and I spent the better part of last Friday afternoon and evening in the emergency room at a local hospital. Long story, but all is well. While there, only a curtain separated our section of a room from another. Several patients rotated through on the other side of the curtain.The first was a young man with terrible ear pain. A nurse came to ask questions of the young man. He had no job. He smoked eight joints a day and two to three cigarettes. He only drank on the weekend, but all weekend. He would only laugh when asked about other drugs he might use.The older man would scold him, but there was no punishment, just acceptance.The next patient was a child who had been playing football, tripped, and possibly had broken his wrist. Neither adult with the child worked. The child was scared and in pain. The adults with the child kept berating the child for making them get out of bed. It was after 4 o’clock in the afternoon.A child in need of comfort received criticism and anger — anger over the adult having to get out of bed, anger over the male adult missing a wrestling program, anger about a waste of time, etc.This is a regular occurrence in hospitals. It is tragic. Our society is collapsing around us. In the local paper over the past few weeks we have all read about mothers beating their children to death, mothers running over their children during the commission of crimes, kids killing kids, and other sundry horrors. This is a mission field if ever there was one.So many churches send missionaries to far off countries to share the Gospel of Christ. But in our cities and suburbs churches should be mindful there is a new mission field waiting to be farmed.As society crumbles, what more can we do as believers here in our own hometown? Make no mistake about it. Once the government, in its war on poverty, decided the government could take the place of fathers and charities we have slowly seen play out what we all know to be true — government is rarely better than a real parent or a real helping hand. It is too abstract and too inefficient.But over the last half century more and more people have become more and more dependent on a government so big it could give us everything and take it all away if it wanted. Now, however, the government cannot cope. It is out of money and out of trust. Still, dependency exists. Government did this because the people of this nation care about their own. There was no malevolence, just good intentions. It is time, though, for a shakeup in the social order. At a time the government argues less for a right to practice religion and more of only a right to worship, religion could fill the void — feeding bodies and souls in a way the government cannot do.In a survey of teens and twenty somethings on growing atheism among the young, researchers found one of the greatest reasons for atheism among youth is they do not see preachers really believing what they preach. They do not understand why they should believe in a Christ too many preachers do not seem to really believe in.Perhaps it is time to take the Gospel to to our neighborhoods instead of to far off places on the far side of the world.
The Mission Fields