“Pastor, you are a blessing to our church; you see things we don’t see.” These words were in a wonderful note I received recently.
So, you can imagine me trying to figure out how and why I might see things differently, right? I’ve considered lots of typical answers --- birth place, upbringing, religious training, life experiences, personality, God’s personal word to me, etc.
My best answer today is none of the above. Instead, I think my “way of seeing” as a pastor has been influenced most a) by my friendship and acquaintance with Christian missionaries, both long and short term, b) by time spent with dozens and dozens of Christian foreign nationals with whom I have had the privilege to visit for a moment, for hours or even days, and c) by using daily devotionals and Bible commentaries by and for Christians from other countries.
Corrie ten Boom was one of the first to startle me with transformational words from another world view, that of her native Holland and of the Nazi concentration camp she survived.
This morning (June 16th) I am reading a message provided by Lesley-Ann Hix to the online devotional program d365.org. She raises the question, “What impact can my short term work and witness have for Jesus in Chile?” “Is it worth it?”
“Last summer I lived in Arica, Chile, hoping to find Jesus at work there. Immersed in the culture, building relationships and learning as much from my missionary hosts as I could, I did find Jesus already in motion, but I became overwhelmed.
“There was a lot of work to do, and I was only there for two months. What would happen with the community group I started, or the church I worked with, or the children I loved at the children’s home? How was I supposed to be what they all needed?
“When Jesus sends out his disciples, he relieves them of the stress of having to be…well, Jesus. We work hard following Jesus into good work, but we stress ourselves out thinking we have to have it all figured out. The way things turn out is not entirely up to us. In Chile, I found Jesus already bringing life. So the good news is Jesus will be there long after I’ve left.”
Her prayer is simple,
“Holy God, I am grateful that you call me. I am grateful that, no matter where I am, I can be a part of your ongoing work. Help me remember that it’s not all up to me. Amen.”
What might you see? What might you learn? If you could appreciate the truth of God as seen through the eyes of a Christian from another place? Egypt, Syria, perhaps, or Palestine where it all began, South Korea maybe, South America, or South Sudan. Our God is a big, big God, amen?