Jesus….A Place?

She sat next to me on the bus…

“Where train station?”

“Just get off in 3 stops and the station will be on your left”

I noticed her thick accent….

“Where are you from?”

“I from China….where you from?”

“I’m from the United States but God has told us to move overseas….do you know Jesus?”

She stared at me blankly like I had just said a bologna sandwich had told us to move. The expression in her eyes and the wrinkles on her forehead screamed confusion, and so I looked at her precious face – a face that looks very different than mine – and asked her again….

“Have you heard of Jesus?”

Just then, the bus stopped, this woman rushed off, and I will never see her again unless the Lord providentially allows our paths to cross.

This is the sad reality that is all around us. I am not in a closed country where women are covered and I will not be imprisoned or killed for proselytizing. I am in a Western city that is known as a beautiful vacation spot. If you look at pictures of where we will be living for another month, you might pass a little judgement, thinking we are just living it up like any of the thousands of tourists that we meet on a daily basis. But knowing and following Jesus is a joyfully sorrowful experience….I am surrounded by beauty and wealth a lot of the times, but my eyes have been supernaturally opened to the demonic strongholds and deep hopelessness that resides in the people who I pass by everyday. A lot of these people have literally { n e v e r h e a r d } of Jesus. Sometimes the gorgeous mountains in the distance or the cruise ships we pass on our way to the train station don’t grab my attention like the neighbor who covers her head and lives in oppression.

I was sharing about the Chinese lady I met on the bus with a fellow worker and that’s when she told me that she was trying to share with another Chinese lady while she was out and about. She said that as she was trying to tell her about Jesus, that the lady looked at her and actually said…

“Jesus….a place?”

Jesus a place? What? It literally blows my mind that someone in 2013 not only might not have a Bible or any portion of scripture translated into their language, but they might not know one single Christian.

The Craziest Statistic You’ll Read About North American Missions

“One out of five non-Christians in North America doesn’t know any Christians.

That’s not in the fake-Gandhi-quote “I would become a Christian, if I ever met one” sense.

It’s new research in Gordon-Conwell’s Center for the Study of Global Christianity’s Christianity in its Global Context, 1970-2020. Missiologist Todd M. Johnson and his team found that 20 percent of non-Christians in North America really do not “personally know” any Christians.

That’s 13,447,000 people—about the population of metropolitan Los Angeles or Istanbul—most of them in the United States.”

I have to admit….a year ago my life looked so very different. I was completely insulated in a holy bubble, and while I still feel deep grief and homesickness to be back home at times, I am so thankful that the Lord made me uncomfortable enough in the world to do something about it. My only friends were believers and my free time was spent with believers. Occasionally I would go down to the local rescue mission and hand someone a bowl of warm food or tickle a child who looked forgotten, and I thought that was enough. But was it enough if I never shared the gospel with any of them? What I’ve realized since God popped my holy bubble and called me forth to live among dark lostness, was that while Christian community is good and important, when it consumes all of our time and energy, it is idolatry. I really think we can replace a living and breathing relationship with Jesus for our religious activities. I can say that because I’ve lived that. We can become so obsessed with being at church on Sunday morning, having perfect Sunday school attendance, never missing Wednesday night discipleship class, hosting a small group made up of only Christians on another free night, that pretty soon, our Christian activities are our only focus – our one true love – and the Commission Jesus gave to every single believer is not being obeyed.

Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” ~Matthew 28:18-20

Jesus may not have told you to sell or give away all your possessions and to move to a foreign land, but if you are a follower of Jesus, He has told you to make disciples – to do life with others – and to teach them to obey everything the Bible instructs us to do. It’s all a matter of location. Some He calls to Russia and some He calls to Texas. So what does this look like? Well the setting I’m in probably looks pretty similar to a lot of you. When I’m on the bus, I turn to the person next to me and strike up a conversation, always waiting for the Lord to open the door to move the conversation to a spiritual one. I sit at the park while my kids play and when someone says something like “how do you have patience with your kids?” I don’t shy away from telling her how God helps me have patience. Choose to eat at a restaurant of a different culture and use the opportunity to pray for and share with your waiter. When the girl points out a pink tour bus that just drove by and says it’s neat to see a good cause on that bus, I use that as a segue to telling her how it was because of my mother’s death from breast cancer that I ended up finding Jesus. Every conversation has the possibility to turn into a spiritual one. It’s all about praying for the Holy Spirit to show you where God is at work and then joining Him when he opens the door for you speak up. Have you ever been in the home of a lost person, or had a lost person in your home to eat a meal with you? I’m guilty of this as well, but I’m tired of wasting my precious vapor of a life, and I’m choosing to disregard my shyness or fears, and to share the treasure of the cross and resurrection that has the power to change even the worst of sinners. How will someone who has only seen broken families or broken dreams see the way the resurrection of Jesus can resurrect a broken life to one of joy, hope, love, and purpose without being around one who lives it out? The way you live your life – love your spouse, relate to your children, react when mistreated – will speak volumes of the power of Christ……but if a lost person has never met a Christian, how will they ever see this? I met a girl my age from Korea who told me she is dreading going back to her country because everyone there is mean. She told me that her mother said “I love you” on her birthday when she was 5 years old and that she and her family never…NEVER…hug or kiss each other. This is foreign to many of you reading this, but how would you showing a girl like this the love of Jesus completely change her entire world, and subsequently her eternal destiny.

“Then Jesus went out to the lake shore again and taught the crowds that were coming to him. As he walked along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at his tax collector’s booth. “Follow me and be my disciple,” Jesus said to him. So Levi got up and followed him.

Later, Levi invited Jesus and his disciples to his home as dinner guests, along with many tax collectors and other disreputable sinners. (There were many people of this kind among Jesus’ followers.) But when the teachers of religious law who were Pharisee saw him eating with tax collectors and other sinners, they asked his disciples, “Why does he eat with such scum?”

When Jesus heard this, he told them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.” ~Mark 2:13-17

While it’s been a process of learning how to share my faith, I have to say that it is becoming just part of who we are as a family. It has gotten easier! The world has been my classroom. The Lord first opened my eyes to the devastating condition of the hearts of those around me, and then He has given me the very opportunities to share that I have prayed for. Sometimes I do a good job, and sometimes I flat out miss the opportunity and the Lord uses those times to teach me so that the next time I will be better. People who cross your path on a daily basis – even in the Bible Belt of the United States of America – are dying without hope. A horrific eternity awaits them and it breaks my heart. How much must we hate somebody to not share Jesus with them? My prayer for those of you reading this blog will be that you will bravely step out of your comfort zone. Your light will shine the brightest in the dark. Do not give up meeting together, for Christian community is so beautiful and shows the love of Christ that the world is starved of. Spur one another on in good works, glorifying the Father in everything you do. There is joy in obedience!

Heaven is cheering and a lost world is waiting

Be sensitive to the Spirit – Be brave – Be the light!!