We hear a lot these days about executive orders coming out of the White House. Depending on which news outlet you listen to, President Obama is issuing way too many executive orders or he’s trying to work around a legislature that won’t do anything. Whether you’re red or blue on this matter, note this: in the last 100 years, only three presidents have issued less executive orders than the current president: Kennedy, Ford, and George H.W. Bush. (Here’s a full list.)
What would you think if the president issued an executive order for a whole new army?
When John F. Kennedy was running for president, he campaigned on the idea of America sending out volunteers to assist in underdeveloped countries. So less than six weeks after he took office, on March 1, 1961, he issued the executive order to form this army of volunteers. He called it the Peace Corps. It was only a trial program, but he asked Congress to approve it and fund it. In his speech to Congress, Kennedy said:
“Throughout the world the people of the newly developing nations are struggling for economic and social progress which reflects their deepest desires. Our own freedom, and the future of freedom around the world, depend, in a very real sense, on their ability to build growing and independent nations where men can live in dignity, liberated from the bonds of hunger, ignorance and poverty.” (source)
So here we are, 55 years later, and the Peace Corps is still going. Today, 8600+ people are working in other countries as a part of the Peace Corps.
Kennedy was not the first to challenge people to go and serve. He was not the first to send people on mission.
Jesus was the first—and His challenge is a far greater one. Jesus calls us to do more than liberate people “from the bonds of hunger, ignorance and poverty.” He calls us to liberate people from death.
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matt. 28:19-20).
Ed Stetzer has said, “The passion of the church and every follower of Christ should be that all peoples have an opportunity to hear, understand, and respond to the gospel.”
Jesus Himself is our peace (Eph. 2:14), and (if I can hijack the phrase from Kennedy) we are the corps taking that message of peace to anyone and everyone we encounter.
Hundreds of Christian ministries and agencies exist to support and help people engage in the mission of taking Christ to the world. Three regularly have my attention:
In the comment section, I’d love to hear your connection and involvement with missions.