The other day, Laura interrupted me during my devotional time. With desperation she looked at me with wonder. "These stories you tell, about sharing the gospel with people... how do you do it???"
I laughed. She was referring to the moments in Ushuaia and 30 de Agosto, but other stories I've told her before as well. Experiences that are pretty crazy, but experiences rather natural as well. As natural as getting on a bus for instance.
So I asked her, "How will you become a good guitar player?"
"By practice," she said.
I turned to read my Bible, but only jokingly. It was a very Confucious-teaching-student moment, but I don't say that as if I'm on any high horse here. It's obviously God at work in me, but I have to make certain choices for anything to happen.
The best way I can describe it is how I heard someone preach it in Colorado. There's a baby on the side of the road in the middle of winter. A group of Christians pull over and gather around it to pray. They pray for someone to come and take care her, we'll say it's a her. Then they get back in the car and drive off.
Prayer is powerful, yet this moment not only called for prayer but for action as well. What we need are eyes to clearly see this, and hands willing to get messy. I explained to Laura that learning how to share the gospel for me, came at a very young age. I think it was even in middle school when I began the F.A.I.T.H. class that would visit people who came to our church for the first time. We brought cookies and tracts. The vision was to converse, get to know them, eat cookies together if possible, invite them back, share the gospel, etc. etc.
I was clear to admit that motives weren't always the best during this time. "Sometimes, and I regret to say, it was all about numbers--how many people did you visit tonight?" I explained. "And worse, sometimes it was just about getting to spend time with some boys that I liked." She chuckled with me this time.
And yet, as we read in Philippians, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. Because of this, we rejoice. Naturally, I have qualms with just leaving this sentence here. I think of the fact that there are evangelists who completely miss the point of Christ. I want to believe that what Paul was saying here was that when "Christ was preached" it encapsulates the need for only Jesus to save us from sin and death and to give us new life NOW. Thus, we are forever transformed when "Christ is preached."
Aside from this, what I really learned from F.A.I.T.H. was how to begin the evangelical conversation in the first place. How does one get from a conversation about someone's boyfriend, to God, for example?
In time, I was able to get into what it means for a relational experience in evangelism--to not just preach Christ, but to live out His example of walking beside someone for discipleship. Yet, I am also aware of Bill Bright's (thank you Cru) theme, "Five minutes with someone is five minutes of opportunity" (my paraphrase). Sometimes you just won't get another moment.
As you can see, this is a complicated subject.
Then today I was convicted of my lack of deeper conversation with the girls in the institute. Not that I don't try ever, but often I forget and get lazy in our conversations together... Things like that. Nieves and I intentionally prayed before entering today that God would help us with our words. And we ended up being more open with each other. I got to know more of the latest addition, Maria Elena's, story.
I praised God for answering our prayer.
Then I came home to figure out how to fix the shower. I had to run to the local hardware store, and in the process, ran into one of the girls from the bakery. We chatted, and next thing I knew we were talking about God. She had to go a little later, but when I came to the hardware store, the female attendant said she was thinking of me.
"I have a whole box of wooden figures and flowers and the like," she tells me. "I know you meet with the children in Las Violetas, would you use anything like that to paint as a hand craft? I would like to donate them."
Blown away. And part of me thinks it's because they know I'm a missionary, so they expect the conversation to steer that direction. Part of me thinks it's because God has trained my eyes and hands to see.
..that's right, it's not over..
I went to the neighbor's house across the street to help figure out a way for them to contact Heather. They were very close with Heather and JD, and are excited about her having a kid in a few months. This led to further conversation, which led to a possibility of meeting someone who lives a block away but is in great need. It's difficult to explain, but I just kept feeling that it's an opportunity that I must try and take.
Just like 30 de Agosto. A "why not?"
A "who knows?"
A "Just do it."
And because of this we rejoice. And because of this, your life will be much more of an adventure than you could have ever planned. Believe me.
Okay, now I'm late for dinner with Maria Elena. Chau.