As a Christian you’re familiar with the Great Commission, “Go and make disciples of all nations,” Jesus said. What a HUGE task, isn’t it? But what a comfort that he also said, “I am with you always.” We don’t work on our own – God works through us. We know this, and it comforts us.

But, do you remember the details of Jesus’ instructions to his disciples at his ascension? Acts 1 tells us they were to be his witnesses “in Jerusalem and in Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth.” This applies to each of us, too, as members of the universal priesthood of believers.

What’s your “Jerusalem”? – that’s your home, your family and friends. “Judea”? – that’s your community, your LWMS circuit. And “the ends of the earth”? – that’s easy – that’s where our home and world missionaries go, places we can’t.

But “Samaria”? What’s your Samaria? Do you remember what significance that location had for the disciples? The Samaritans were half-breeds – remnants of the Jewish people when the Babylonian captivity had taken place. They had intermarried with heathens and, by Jesus’ time, followed a false religion which contained only fragments of the true faith. The Jews shunned them, considering them unclean. Often a Jew traveling between Judea and Galilee would lengthen his journey to avoid going through Samaria and possible contact with the Samaritans. And, remember the astonishment of the woman at the well when Jesus – a JEW – asked HER for a drink of water! But Jesus commanded his disciples – and us – to spread the gospel also “in Samaria”.

So, what’s your Samaria? Who are the people you are reluctant to interact with? Is it the overly-talkative neighbor who wastes your time with her endless complaints? Is it the son-in-law or grandson-in-law you never really approved of? Is it the neighborhood teens with piercings all over? What about the filthy, smelly homeless person you pass downtown? Or the Muslims moving into your town, the immigrants whose ways and language you don’t understand, the gang members, ex-cons, drunks, drug addicts, and the prostitutes on many a corner? What’s your reaction to all these people? Examine your heart.

And what do all these people have in common? They all need to hear the gospel, just like you once did. Think about your life and where you live and the “second-rate citizens” of this world. How grateful we can be that we have workers and members in the WELS who are willing to cross the line and reach out to the “Samaritans” of our day – foreign missionaries, prison and institutional ministers, cross-cultural pastors and teachers, the welcoming member who always has a warm smile for anyone who enters the church doors, no matter how different or strange.

Pray for them to have the right words, as God promises to provide. Pray that your heart may be opened and you might have the courage to make that one connection that will lead to a sharing of the way of salvation. Thank the Lord for the projects LWMS is able to support that promote gospel outreach to EVERYONE. May God bless each of us as we seek his guidance in doing our part to follow the great commission.