Outreach Efforts To Sikhs.
A couple of days ago we canvassed two Sikh and Muslim neighborhoods. We were handing out flyers from Community of Hope Church. On one side of the flyer was church information including service times.
On the other side, was an invitation to a children’s program in their neighborhood park. Though they can see that it is a Christian program from the flyer, the hope is that they will give it a shot for their kids to have some fun.
Well, last night was a first children’s program at the park and our students had a great time seeing the fruit of their canvassing efforts. There were a bunch of stations including games, arts and crafts, face-painting and then a soccer area for some of the bigger kids.
A Buzz Of Activity
It was exciting to see the buzz of activity, knowing that our teenage students were serving these little ones. In today’s teen culture, it doesn’t seem like something that would be embraced, but our students wholeheartedly loved these children as if they were their own brothers and sisters.
It was a beautiful thing.
As for me, I began the evening by taking some video and photos for our the DVD that I hope to create for the students when I get back home. I had just put the video camera back in the bag and was about to sit down at the face-painting station, when all of a sudden I was cornered by a young East Indian woman.
Without as much as a hello, she immediately asked me a question.
“If I follow God, why do I still have so much struggle and pain?“
“Wow,” I thought, “obviously, I’m going to be here a while!” She had brought her two kids and as they ran off to play, I decided we better pull up a couple of chairs and talk this thing through.
It turns out that this young woman had sought truth for many years. She expressed how crazy it seemed to her to pray to pictures, paintings or idols, which is typical within East Indian culture.
While on this journey, her husband left her and in turn (within East Indian culture) her family and friends did not give her the care she needed.
The light in this story is that her journey brought her to accept Christ six months ago!
Unfortunately, after fully accepting the Gospel of Jesus Christ and rejecting the idol-worship of her culture, the gap has widened even farther within her circles of friends and family. She feels that she has nowhere to turn and no support.
Her children misbehave often, not listening to correction or discipline; leaving her feeling overwhelmed and worried that she’s not being an adequate mother. This leads to extreme loneliness and a deep longing for a husband and a father for her children.
She has Christian friends who have told her that she’s not praying enough, not reading her Bible enough and that she needs to find the joy of the Lord.
This frustrated me.
My mind was swimming with thoughts on how Believers continue to give an inadequate picture of what the Gospel is really all about. Did Jesus not make it very clear, as did the authors of the New Testament, that following the Gospel will be difficult?
What does “take up your cross” mean? (Lk. 9:23) Why does the Church continue to preach this come to Jesus and everything will be rosy message?
The reality is that following Christ in Caucasian culture is difficult enough. I can’t even begin to imagine how terribly isolated one would feel following Christ in East Indian culture. Regardless, there I was.
I was going to be the first Christian to fill her in on the fact that life gets difficult when we follow Christ.
I knew that she had minimal Biblical knowledge. I didn’t want to be the Christian who speaks in christianese to the point she’s left more confused than when we started our conversation.
As I searched my heart on how to explain her struggle, I was reminded of Donald Miller‘s principles surrounding story.
I told her about a movie where all the characters have perfect lives, never struggling or feeling pain. At the end of the movie, all the characters retire with loads of money, perfect families and continue to live happily ever after.
Then I asked whether or not she would like that movie? She received the connection immediately, replying “No, I would not like that movie.” Followed by, “That is a good example!”
She immediately understood the connection between experiencing pain, conflict and struggle, and living a story worth telling. We discussed this concept a little more, then I prayed for her.
About this time, the Community of Hope intern called everyone over for story-time. It was the story of Joseph. I couldn’t believe it! Joseph, a man who experienced pain and struggle throughout his life, yet continued to follow God through each step of his journey.
I could not have chosen a better story for this young women to hear.
After the program, as we were driving home, one of the students commented on how this young women interacted with the story. He said she was hanging on every word, smiling and nodding her head as the intern explained all the tests and trials Joseph faced.
After so much pain and loneliness, this young woman finally had validation for her suffering. God’s plan is so perfect!
Join the Conversation, Leave Your Thoughts
Why do you think God requires personal sacrifice in order to follow the Gospel?