It’s not often that I journal and blog my life experiences, but today was something quite spectacular. Today a few classmates, my wife, and I loaded up on a van and traveled to another world only an hour and a half away: Clarkston, GA.
For those of you unfamiliar with the area, Clarkston serves as a refugee relocation city. Refugees from all around the world are placed in that one town. I’ve been twice before. The school often works with Clarkston International Bible Church and NAMB to outreach to the local area. But this day was quite different.
We got there a bit late, which is typical of our professor. He operates on what we affectionately call “missionary time” (he served for several years in Africa with the Pocot people group in Kenya). A large group of high schoolers were already there and just about finished their training with the “good news” cards. 16 high schoolers were assigned to train us in the same method. The amount they told us about the Gospel just made me want to stay and share the Gospel with them.
But here’s where the journey really began. We drove over to a particular apartment complex and were split up into groups of three. My wife and I and another student went into an apartment and knocked on a door, not expecting to enter another world.
A group of people that hardly spoke English opened the door. We explained we came from a Christian college wanting to learn about different cultures. They welcomed us in.
Most of my conversation happened with an older man named Piteran translated through his daughters (who only knew a little more English than him). Come to find out they were Nepali from Burma and came to America three years ago. They were much happier here as well. The served each of us a can of coca cola. As we popped open open our cans, their culture opened before our eyes.
We asked certain questions and began to figure out things that were important to them. They told us about an important celebration coming up in 7 days and showed us pictures of people putting something in their forehead. We asked about death, and they showed us a YouTube video of someone dying and what happens. We asked about God and they said “Hindu”. I asked Piteran if he ever heard of Jesus Christ and he said, “no.”
At that moment I racked my brain to try to figure out how to explain the Gospel to a devout Hindu who has never heard of Jesus Christ and doesn’t speak a lick of English. I though back through my World Religion class but nothing came to mind. We sat there awkwardly watching their family with young kids and all speaking a different language.
Talk about culture shock. None of my other trips had prepared me for this. I stood up thanked them for their hospitality and we walked on to the next apartment. All the while, I was beating myself up for not even trying to explain the Gospel.
At the next apartment we met a young Muslim boy at about the age of 11 or 12 who spoke English very well. I asked him questions about Islam but he had just begun to learn about it. So I explained the Gospel to him. It was much easier talking to a Muslim who already presupposes one semi-just god.
Afterwards we regrouped with three other classmates to see how they were doing. As we were talking, Piteran decides to come outside and walk over to us. I explained to him that these were the other classmates from the college. About this time the classmate I. Our group realizes she has google translate on her phone.
I begin by trying to explain that God is one. Piteran told me he believed that Brahma, Vishnu, and Shevah were one. So I explained God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit… The Trinity. Not usually the first thing you want to explain to someone who has never heard of Jesus Christ. It was even more tricky because every time I would use “spirit” or “life” it would translate into atman. Which has lots of negative connotations which it had no idea how to contextualize to Christianity.
But it worked well with this little google translate to explain that God has wrath toward bad deeds (he didn’t recognize the word for sin, and Heaven knows I wasn’t about to use karma). And that Isu Kriston, God the Son, came from God the Father, died in out place, so that the wrath that God had toward our sin was put on Him in our place. He just never really understood that he was a bad person…
As my wife and I prepared to go, we read through the book of Jonah. The prophet is commanded to go to preach repentance to a nation who didn’t know their right from their left. Why? Because God has compassion for all people. Cultural, language, gender, social, and other barriers do not stop the Gospel because of God’s faithfulness and grace and compassion to all people.
Salvation belongs to the Lord. But for some reason, he chooses to use us believers as broken instruments to make a beautiful harmony for His glory. But there is a such great cacophony of the unreached because “go” is the command and so often “no” is the response. Satisfy the great cry if the blood of Christ, satisfy the great command of the commission, satisfy the great call to the unreached, and go.