If you have read my blog for any amount of time you are well aware of my passion and deep love for Jesus Christ. My desire to know Him better and deeper and intimately. So please remember that in the next few words I am about to write.
I am working very hard on the flip side of judgmentalism. I grew up in a very legalistic/judgmental environment. Not necessarily within my home, but definitely with in the denomination that I grew up in. So having encountered on a very real and personal level legalistic judgements on my own life and my own person, I often find myself reversing those same legalistic values back on those who pushed them onto me.
So again…the Lord is dealing in my heart with this. I am learning that He loves the legalistic/judgemental people that are out there as much as He loves me…and they are on the same journey I am and they- not I – will be accountable for their actions one day, as I will be for mine.
With all of that I am about to go off in a RANT!
Why do people come home from missions trips and spout off the number of salvations as if they alone were the accomplishment? “We just got back from Timbuktu and we took our white selves with all of our American evangelism tactics and gathered in a crowd of poor people who culturally will agree with most anything we will say, preached to them and at the end had them raise their had if they said an incantation (ahem..excuse me prayer). We counted those hands and Praise the Lord 500 people were “saved. We won all of those people to the Lord. ”
There are no words to tell you how disgusted and purely nauseated I am right at this moment.
What you have just done is completely discount and discredit all of the amazing work of the Lord that has been done long before you even knew where the place was.
When your white American selves go down to a land and are the novelty item for the week that you are there…of course crowds are going to come and see you. Most 3rd world cultures are different than our self-centered selfish selves in that they will agree to or do whatever it is that you are asking them to do with very little understanding as to why it is that you are doing it!
Please do not come back to the good ol‘ US of A to your middle class bible belt churches where for the most part church is a hobby one does on Sunday and count off your totals and consider your job done.
Seriously it hurts my heart!!!!
Billy Graham used to say that it took 40 people to lead someone to the cross of Christ, the 1st one didn’t believe he did anything and the last one believed he did it all.
Here is what I wish I would hear when people come home from these short journeys of their lives.
“Man, we went down and were able to present the gospel in a unique way to a lot of people. They showed up because we were a novelty and that is OK, we’re glad they came. We know that our missionaries that are on the field work hand in hand with these people so our coming was simply a bonus (for lack of another term at this time) to the work that the Lord is already doing. During our time there we were able to share the message of Christ and his deep love for us with fairly large crowds and as we presented the opportunity to follow Him, hundreds raised their hands in response. What we do know is that some of them were just raising their hands because we asked them too, or praying a prayer because we asked them too…but what our hearts cry is that lives there will be changed. For those who did understand and truly came to know Christ we are thrilled, we don’t know the exact count because first of all that is not what matters here and second of all only God sees the heart. But we are excited to touch base and continue to support our missionary who lives among those people and hear back stories of those whose lives are changed and who are maturing and showing fruit. Plus we are excited to, God willing, go back next year and continue to establish relationship with these people. We would also ask you to pray for those who raised their hands or said a prayer just because the American said so….we know there were lots of those in that crowd, but we are praying that they will have heard something that wets their appetites to go back to the other activities of our missionary there and that one day they will understand truly come to know Him.”
Maybe that is what you are saying when you come home and say “We lead such and such a total to Christ.” But know that is very rarely what is communcated or heard.
I would love to apologize for this and say that my anger is not justified, but I am having to deal with that on my own. And may print some sort of retraction or addendum to this at some point. For now, I am just being real. Why can’t we stop taking credit for God’s work? Why must we put a number of “success” up in order to feel that our work is validated? I don’t know the answers to these…I am simply wrestling and hurt and embarrased by actions and words of those who are supposed to be a representation of our mutual faith.