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Christians should keep their faith to themselves

June 6, 2011

I have seen parents (usually the one in a divorced set who doesn’t attend a church) deny their children the opportunity to take the gospel overseas because of this one complaint. It’s sad.

Last week I brought up our plans for next month, and asked you for two small favors:

  1. Pray
  2. Give

Some people don’t want to give because they think there are more efficient ways to spread the gospel. We discussed that.

Some people don’t like to support short-term missions trips, because they’re not as effective as long-term mission trips and probably not really what Jesus had in mind when He gave the great commission. Maybe, but I have an ulterior motive anyway.

Then there’s this complaint.

“I don’t believe in missions because I think people should keep their faith personal.”

“I’m not going to give someone money to go convince some poor group of tribespeople that they have to be Christians like he is.”

“It’s not really fair to go in as an educated, well-dressed American and tell them everything they believe is wrong. They’re going to believe you just because you’re an impressive foreigner.”

All of which is ironic because it sounds like respect for other cultures and people, but it’s very much the opposite. If you really look at it, it’s pretty insulting.

It’s true that we tell people what we believe – through a translator, usually. It’s true that there’s a weird, inherent celebrity-status thing going on as Americans (at least in India there was).

But these complaints that people have about how we’re somehow robbing indigenous people of their heritage or their culture is assuming that they’re stupid. Poor people in India are not stupid. Tribespeople in the Amazon are not stupid.

They appreciate that we’ve come. They enjoy the time we spend together and the small gifts we bring for the kids, but they also tend to ask a lot of questions. They listen very carefully to the stories, and they watch very carefully when we pray.

And some of them say, “No.” Some of them spend the day or week with us, have good conversations, consider the stories and the testimonies and the skits, and don’t respond.

And we let them. We’re sad for them and we continue to pray for them, but we don’t threaten or coerce or bribe – because that’s not the gospel. We present the facts, but they have to decide. Just like here at home.

Usually, when we leave a village, the people are sad to see us go. They hold our hands and walk next to the trucks and ask when we’ll be back and wave until we’re out of sight. Even the ones who say, “No.” Because we don’t take advantage of them. They would know if we tried to take advantage of them just like you would know if someone tried to take advantage of you. They know we love them the best way we know how, and everyone appreciates that.

You’re not praying and giving so that we can go overseas and manipulate people. We go to present the truth. We go because everyone should have the option; everyone should have the opportunity to choose.

Will you help broaden horizons, mingle cultures, and enrich lives? Clicky.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Tami Hoban permalink
    June 6, 2011 9:08 am

    Love this, Lex. That’s a perspective most people don’t see.

    • Lex permalink
      June 6, 2011 10:18 am

      Thanks Tami. I actually got a letter expressing much of this in response to a support letter before our first trip to India. I didn’t really know how to respond, but when we got back it suddenly seemed so ignorant.

  2. Michael J Sowa permalink
    June 6, 2011 6:21 pm

    Do you know if Grace Scheele and the kids in Redefined have seen this?

  3. Grace permalink
    June 7, 2011 5:45 pm

    well, I’ve fer sure seen it Mike! But I must say this issue has been pretty irrevelant for me in raising support for MY.

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