Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Country of My

One of the most telling conversations we had in Africa was with one of our interpreters. He was asking a few of us about how long we had been married, how many kids we had, how old they are, and things like that. At some point in the conversation he told us he "needed" to get married. We asked him why and he didn't really have an answer. I think it was here that he asked Mark what the perfect wife was. I am sure I am not going to get Mark's answer perfectly correct, but I believe this is generally what he told him. (Honestly, Mark's answer isn't the point. The point is how he responded to Mark's answer that told me all I needed to know about how Americans are viewed.) Mark told him that first, she should love God more than anything else, including her husband. Next he generalized husbands and wives and said, "after loving God, we should love our spouses more than ourselves. We should put their needs above our own" Upon hearing this, he sort of had a puzzled look on his face. Then he said, "But America is the country of my. My house, my car, my wife." Basically he was saying, "Americans don't put others first, they only think about themselves." Mark told him that we often think about our self first, however, God would have us put our spouse and their needs above any need that we may have.

This was one of several things in Africa that put a things in perspective for me. So often we get wrapped up in our wants and put other people's wants and needs on the back burner. My prayer is that, because of my new friend from Africa, I will be more mindful of others' needs and not be so focused on me.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Not Just a Suggestion

Before I went, as well as since I've returned, people say things like "I am sure this changed your life," or "I am sure this trip has given you a different outlook on things." Because this was my first mission trip, I don't know what I expected in terms of "life change" or "outlook." I can tell you one thing for certain, my outlook on things is very different and I certainly am looking at things and pondering how I can change the approach that I take to some things.

Last night the six of us that went to Africa had the opportunity to share with the church about our trip. Mark gave a general overview of the trip and the David went through a slide show of pictures that he took while we were there. After that, Mark went through a series of questions that led the discussion. One of the questions was "What made the greatest impact in your life spiritually from this experience?" I felt that this question got at the heart of the statements that various people have made.

We spent a lot of time, while in the village, talking to the person that stood up and became the first follower of Christ during Mark's first visit into the village. He is a teacher and he is very eager to learn more about Christ and what it means to be a Christ follower. Beyond that, he is doing exactly what the stories say Christ followers do...tell people about Jesus. When we got to the village we learned that he was not in the village. We were told he was visiting another village that his mother is from, but he would be back the following day. When he returned we learned that he had been telling the people of this village about Jesus. He asked us if we would be able to go into that village because he wanted the people there to meet us and hear some of the stories that we were telling. We definitely felt that we needed to go to this village. If for no other reason, I felt this would validate what he had been telling the people of this other village. I don't know why, but I was amazed at the fact that the story says followers of Jesus tell others about Jesus, and that's exactly what he did despite the fact that he's only be a follower of Christ for a few months.

I think the reason that I was amazed is because of my own lacking in this area. As we were going through the story he definitely knew what the story was about, but he couldn't tell the story back to us. This struck me because this is the excuse that I tell myself when I think about witnessing to someone. "I know the story, but what if they ask me a question that I don't know." This question plagues me, but not the villager. He just tells those around him about Jesus, just like Jesus told all of His followers. One of the main things I have taken away from this trip is Jesus didn't suggest that we tell others. He commanded us to. And that's what I'm going to work on. Doing what followers of Jesus do...tell others about Jesus.