“Can you tell me the end of the story?”

Our international group is always an adventure. Between language barriers, cultural differences, and various spiritual beliefs we are always learning a lot (both internationals AND Americans!) It’s a lighthearted, relaxed group that loves to eat, to laugh, and to practice English.

These two international students came on our women's retreat! Pray for them to continue to grow in their understanding of the Gospel and for their hearts to be open to receiving it.

These two international students came on our women’s retreat! Pray for them to continue to grow in their understanding of the Gospel and for their hearts to be open to receiving it.

Because we have a mix of Christians, Muslims, agnostics, and athiests, we center each meeting on a common theme that everyone experiences in their lives. Then we look at what the Bible has to say about that theme. For example, a few weeks ago we talked about anticipation- how everyone has hopes for the future, and how we have a natural sense that there is something more to life. We read about the prophets in the Bible who anticipated the return of Christ and then discussed how anyone who has a relationship with Jesus can anticipate a future world without pain or evil.

Last night we talked about satisfaction. What are we not satisfied with in life? Where do we go when we are spiritually hungry? John 6:35 says that “Jesus declared, ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.'”

One of our regular students, Bong Joo, brought his friend Cindy* from class. Cindy is a Chinese exchange student who considers herself an athiest but has never really considered the existence of God. She’s read a little bit of the Bible in Mandarin, but not much.

Left to Right: Wyatt (American), Cindy*(Chinese), and Bong Joo (Korean) discussing the storyline of the Bible

Left to Right: Wyatt (American), Cindy*(Chinese), and Bong Joo (Korean) discussing the storyline of the Bible

Cindy was extremely engaged throughout the entire meeting. She asked many questions and was eager to participate in our discussion of satisfaction. We spent a long time talking about what the Bible is, and we described the storyline that connects each book together into one coherent Bible.

“You can keep this Bible if you want,” I told her. She was hesitant at first but as we opened it and gave her a tour, her inhibitions fell away. “What are the most important parts for me to read?” she asked. I was shocked. Here is a Chinese woman who struggles with the English language and has never heard the Gospel- and she grasps the importance of the Bible and is eager to read it! We pointed her to the front of the Bible, where this particular edition lays out the gospel in simple terms and provides verses.

“Can you tell me the end of the story? What happens?” she asked after realizing just how big the Bible is. “Well, Jesus returns again and he destroys all evil and sadness forever,” I replied. “He takes everyone who has a relationship with Him to live forever with Him in a world without anything bad.”

“That’s a REALLY good ending then!” Cindy exclaimed. And it is! I love the excitement that I hear from those who are hearing the gospel for the first time. So often we forget the beauty of God’s plan for us. We forget about the good ending we are working for. What a good reminder of the hope and anticipation we as believers have for the future!

Praise God for Bong Joo’s desire for Cindy to learn about God and for his initiative to bring her to our group. Please keep Cindy in your prayers as she begins to learn about Jesus, and pray for us as leaders as we answer difficult questions and cross cultural, religious, and language barriers. May Cindy come to have a relationship with Jesus and experience this “good ending” herself!

*Name has been changed to protect the individual

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How much do you have to hate someone…

Yes, I’ve been silent for longer than normal. Life got a little crazy last week as I was trying to reach my September 1st financial support deadline as well as move from one apartment to another. Moving? Success (at 2am). Support deadline? Didn’t make it. But I got an extension of 6 days PRAISE THE LORD! Check out the “partner with me” tab at the top of the blog if you’re interested in hearing more about how you can financially support me.

Ok enough explaining and shameless plugging.

Question of the day. How much do you have to hate someone to not share with them the Good News of the only Hope that won’t fail in the world?

Yes, hate is a strong word, but I think it is appropriate in this situation. Listen to this clip by Penn Jillet, and you’ll understand where this question comes from. 2 things you should know before you watch.

1) Penn Jillet performs Penn&Teller shows. He is an outspoken illusionist, comedian, and performer who articulately advocates for atheism. His beliefs are here: http://thisibelieve.org/essay/34/

2) Proselytizing is converting someone to your own faith or religion.

“If you believe that there is a heaven and hell, and people could be going to hell…and you think it’s not really worth telling them this because it would make it socially awkward…How much do you have to hate somebody to not proselytize? How much do you have to hate somebody to believe that everlasting life is possible and NOT tell them that?”

While there are some things in this video I don’t agree with, such as the description of the man’s actions as proselytizing (I think he was trying to introduce him to the person of Jesus rather than religion), I was really struck by his reasoning and his respect for those who share what they believe is most vital in life. How many times are we too afraid to share our beliefs because we don’t want to be disrespected?

Rom 10:14-15 “For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” 14 But how are they to call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?”

I think his description of the guy who gave him the Bible gives some good clues to how we can share the Gospel effectively. First, he says over and over how “sane” the guy was. He was a business man who could appreciate a secular comedy show. How can we expect to reach the world if we hide from it? In the college world, this is things like spending time with classmates, going to their parties, being the designated driver, finding things in common.

Then he talks about how the man wasn’t defensive but was polite and kind. This doesn’t mean spiritual discussions and debates aren’t wrong, but what people notice is HOW we approach them. Penn could tell the man truly cared about him. In an essay, he wrote about previous experiences:

” I don’t travel in circles where people say, “I have faith, I believe this in my heart and nothing you can say or do can shake my faith.” That’s just a long-winded religious way to say, “shut up,” or another two words that the FCC likes less. But all obscenity is less insulting than, “How I was brought up and my imaginary friend means more to me than anything you can ever say or do.”

Just some stuff to chew on. What are your interactions with nonChristians like? Do you even have any, or are you hiding from the secular world? Are you showing your friends the greatest love by sharing your source of hope and life? Or are you showing a greater love for your personal validation and reputation as you try to keep faith out of the picture?