Sunday, August 23, 2009

You can know all the right words and miss the point entirely…

It’s interesting how I meet people here in Loja. I met Jason, a fellow American through a series of Peace Core volunteers and English teachers. He loves coming into the café for a good chicken quesadilla and tiramisu. I think it makes him feel at home. Because Jason likes coming in, he also brings in a lot of friends, new peace core people and people just passing through. Last week he brought in Lucy and Claude. They are also Peace Core workers working with an indigenous community outside of Riobamba. When they came in, they asked about the café and I told them it was mission run, which seemed to satisfy their curiosity. They ordered pie and chocolate cake, which Susi, one of our employees brought out to them. They began to ask her questions about El Sendero and us as Evangelicals.
She excitedly came up to me to tell me about the conversation and suggest me talking to them since they are native English speakers. I left the kitchen excited and wondering about what to say. I sat down with them and did what I thought Jesus would do… I asked questions. Who were they, what did they do, and what they believe. I got a charade of answers including their interest in Christianity because of the community they work with. This indigenous community used to be Catholic, but because of some slightly greedy priests, they were turned off to Catholicism and turned on to Jesus by a group of Christians who came to their village. They told me how Jesus changed these people’s lives… from the way they treated their families to their work ethic. THESE PEOPLE are what peaked the interest of these two! Who would have guessed that the Lord would bring 2 people all the way from the States to be ministered to by a community of Christians living in the middle of nowhere in Ecuador!
They went on to say that they used to be Lutherans, but then some 10-20 years ago had a spiritual awakening and became Buddhists. They pray to Buda or any other person that they look up to that could possibly help them on their journey. They believe that all paths are correct. Claude told me, “We believe in Jesus, but not that accepting him as your Savior is the only way to God. He was a good man that we should model life after.” It intrigued me that these two knew the “right words,” and yet it did little to penetrate their hearts and lives.
They continually said to me, “As a Christian you believe… but as Buddhists we believe…” After they had finished telling me their story and I had finished asking my parade of questions, I said “You keep saying, ‘As a Christian you believe…’ so can I share with you what I actually believe?” They agreed and the Lord proceeded to use my mouth to speak the truth of His Word. I tried to agree with them on any point I could, and yet not shy away from Jesus being the Only way.
Remember Jason? Yeah, he was sitting there this entire time pretending to read a magazine, but I know that he heard every word. I was trembling, more out of fear than the cold that pours over Loja every night. One thing I didn’t share about Jason… he is gay and really has no desire for things of the Lord. So as I shared the truth with these two Buddhists, I prayed that the Lord would also move in Jason’s life.
After I had finished, they thanked me for the food, said they would come back if ever through Loja and left. I know the Spirit of God was there. I know that this was a God-ordained moment… whether for Lucy, Claude or Jason I don’t know… we’ll just have to wait and see!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Joy in the Midst of Chaos

I never thought I would have this problem… TOO many people helping!? This past 2 weeks, Verbo youth group has been helping us out in order to raise money for their camp that is coming up. Luis and Vivi, a missionary couple for Ecuador and Peru have also been helping. I’ve also had a ton of younger ones wanting to help out because they are on vacation. On top of all that, our weekly volunteers are also coming in. Friday, I had 7 volunteers, plus me and another short-termer and 4 employees… needless to say, our kitchen was FULL!
The blessing comes when I get to have conversations like I had with one of our new volunteers, Kathy. She goes to my church, but I hadn’t met her before she stepped into the café to be a volunteer. She stands at about 5 feet and has the sweetest disposition one could ever ask for. She is one of eleven siblings and has been raised her entire life in the church. After hearing a little bit about her life, she asked me how I came to know Jesus… and I told her that I too was raised in the church and accepted Jesus as my Savior at age 5, BUT that my relationship with God did not become real to me until I was 15 years old. I told her about how I went to church out of habit. As soon as I started to tell my own story, I could see her get excited. “YES! That’s me! I’ve been going to church all my life but it’s only been as of recently that I’ve decided that I want to draw close to God and make it my own.” We talked a bit more about how important the Word of God is. As we talked about it being God’s love letter to us, I could see it connect in her mind and her face beamed with excitement at the prospect of knowing God intimately.
Because of the abundance of chaos in El Sendero this week, I wasn’t able to take our conversation too much further, but it is exciting to see how God has united our two hearts because of the story he has given us both. I am so excited to see what God does in and through Kathy… a young girl on a search to know the heart of God.