Sunday, July 4, 2010

Back Home "physically"

Today is my first day back from India. India was everything I had thought, hoped and dreamed it would be but it was very different than I had imagined.

I have done so much of my third world work in the context of settings that were majority Christian. Throughout much of sub-Saharan Africa, while there is still strong tribal influence, many of the communities would identify themselves as Christian.

India is not so. It is majority Hindu with strong Muslim and Sikh populations as well. The ministries with whom we worked while in country were working in situations religiously averse to Christianity and in some cases outright hostile.

I am not sure many of us in America can truly appreciate what it is like to be the religious minority in a highly spiritual/religious culture. I know I did not and no book on India could prepare me for that.

One of the amazing aspects of this trip was the opportunity that our team had to work with Hindu children, Muslim children, Sikh children and Christian children. The ministries with whom we worked are operating in a spiritual climate that many of us cannot imagine or relate to. I am very thankful for their commitment and passion.

In America, we have completely bought into SELF - the individual. In many cases, we are focused on the individual OVER the community. This is not the case in most of the world and certainly not the case in most of Scripture. This intense focus on self often leads those in the evangelical world to take a different approach to family, church, evangelism, culture, Scripture and many aspects of how we live out our faith than much of the rest of the world.

Without making a judgment of how we live, I pray that we carefully consider our context and sharing Jesus with the world in which we live. I am not advocating for a passive, wishy-washy, watered down truth. I am however strongly advocating for an analysis of Jesus and His ministry and how He chose to interact with those who "should have known" - the Jews and those within the Jewish culture and those who were NOT considered part of the Jewish community and/or the religious.

When we do this, I believe you will see a contrast between a very direct, challenging, harsh and condemning Jesus and a very soft, tolerant, welcoming and loving Jesus.

Our Jesus was one that actually drew the "sinners" and enraged the religious. In your own life, how do those who would not identify as a believer describe you? Are they drawn to you in the same way Jesus drew these crowds or are you mostly surrounded by a cocoon of believers that acts as an insulation from the world?

All of us struggle with this at some level and if you do it is ok. Just ask the Lord to help you give off an aroma that would draw in the lost and not repel them. Remember it is the LOVE of Christ that will draw men to repentance.

The ministries that we worked with face hostility from their communities, from their governments, from their neighbors and some from within their own families. To protect them from some of this persecution, we are not going to print their names in our blogs but we would love to share with you more about what they do and how they do it. So, please contact us.

India is a beautiful country with some of the most amazing people and beautiful children I have ever seen. I truly felt the spirit of God as we moved throughout the brothels, schools, leper colonies and orphanages we visited. God is at work in many of the places that we would least imagine. That shouldn't surprise us but often it does. I am thankful for my time there and our amazing team and I am looking forward to going back very soon.