this weekend becky and i went to mission connexion northwest at crossroads community church. if you know me personally, you know how much i love missions. i have not been able to 'go' in recent years (partly my fault, but partly i have been feeling that God has me more as a sender and supporter for now) but oh how i have loved my previous trips. i firmly believe that missions is for every Christian and that if you are not 'going' then you need to be 'sending'. missions is not something that is negotiable, not something you can say 'it's not my bag' to. Christ clearly gave the great commission and the great commandment because they are the way to spread His good news. ok, off my soapbox now :)
the conference started friday night with one workshop (didn't attend because of timing) and then one large group seminar. the speaker that night was joseph d'souza who is the president of dalit freedom network. i had heard about dalits several years ago but even then not very in depth. the dalit are the lowest caste in hindu's caste system. according to their beliefs, they are so spiritually polluted that if an upper-caste person is touched by the shadow of a dalit then they themselves become polluted. for this reason in villages where there is some possibility that this may happen, the dalit will lay down in the street (even the mud) when someone of an upper caste walks by so that their shadow does not touch the upper caste person. HOW MESSED UP IS THIS?? these people who in reality are infinitely loved by a gracious God are told that they are so worthless and bad that they WILL NEVER HAVE ACCESS TO GOD. can you imagine the despair? to have absolutely no hope? to believe that God wants nothing to do with you-ever?
now, imagine being told that you are actually made in the image of God. imagine being told that you have dignity and purpose because God valued you enough to die for you. what would you do with that? i think you might do what hundreds of thousands of indians are doing-accept the gospel of Jesus Christ and finally being reconciled to the One True God.
i wish you could have been there to hear this account from joseph's mouth. in fact, if you want to hear it in dvd form let me know and we'll set up a time to get together and watch it. i guarantee that you will not feel the same way about the message of the gospel ever again. i had a huge 'ah ha' moment when joseph was talking about the dalit mindset and the approach missionaries use to share the gospel to the dalit. you see, in much of 'western' churches and seminars we learn about making sure a person understands that they are a helpless sinner in need of a savior, as without the belief that you are a sinner -there is no reconciliation needed between yourself and a just God. however, the dalit already know they are worthless sinners. it is all they have ever been told. they don't need to be reminded that this is what they are. what they need to be told is that they have been made in the image of God for His glory alone. that through the cross Jesus gave their life a new identity and meaning and DIGNITY.they now have access to God through Jesus because of their dignity and value as God's prized creation. the reason this struck me so much is that it challenges our cookie cutter view of witnessing and missions. using the same four step plan of salvation i learned in bible college is not going to cut it with everyone. we have to find out what a person's individual 'hang up' is with their identity/life/world view and come against IT with truth. if you had told me this in a different context i would probably say it sounds a little too liberal and might compromise the truth. but i understand now.
truth is not relative, but the WAY we share it IS. we can be completely true to the scriptures and not diminish God in any way but still spread the Word in a way that will effectively touch people's lives.
Father, forgive me for putting your message in a box! open my eyes to new opportunities to share You with the world.