It is important that you not be frustrated because you are not a missionary in Africa or some other mission field around the world. The Lord never brings condemnation to any of His children over a calling when He Himself has placed you where you are in His body. “God has set the members in the body, as it has pleased Him” (1 Corinthians 12:18, paraphrase mine).

Of course, it is important to stay open and willing to hear from the Spirit about serving elsewhere. But we are to surrender the issue completely to the Lord’s stirring and direction. God knows how to inspire us and open doors to ministry, at home and abroad.

The apostle Paul brings a deeply convicting word on this matter of serving the Lord. He was a world-traveling missionary with a heart of love for the poor. He heard the cries of the poorest in every nation he visited and he instructed every pastor and evangelist under him, “Remember the poor.”

Paul regularly took up offerings for the poor, at one point traveling to several cities to raise money for Jerusalem when a famine was imminent. Of anyone who ever lived, Paul understood the cry of human need. Yet, as much as this godly apostle sacrificed—even to the point of dying a poor martyr himself—Paul gave a convicting warning:

“Though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:3, my italics).

I have to wonder: Are we ready to accept Paul’s convicting word here? He is saying, in effect: “You can weep over the desperate cries of the poor. You could go to Africa to the filthy slums. You could be ready to die a martyr. But if you have not laid hold of charity, everything you do is in vain—whether at home or as an overseas missionary.”