For those of you who don’t know, I’m a film major. Basically that means I’m spending thousands of dollars to learn how to make movies and messing around with cool toys for the rest of my life. Well…not exactly, but that’s a long explanation that I don’t think you have the time to read, and this one is simply easier.
Anyhow, one of the things that bugs me the most about my future and its attachment to my faith is the idea that I’ll end up in the genre known as Christian films. Now there’s a time and place for such films, but let’s be honest; most of the time, they suck. Their sole purpose is suppose to be preaching the Word to the world in a form it understands. Instead they come across as preachy, and you end up with a theater full of believers instead of those who need it. The reason behind this sad outcome: it’s forcefulness. These films tend to shove Christianity down your throat to the point that you’re turned off by the fakeness or lack of respect for other beliefs. In the end, you get the opposite effect.
Trips like these work the exact same way. We came into this wanting to change the world and share our story of how Christ set us free, but we quickly realized that it’s not that simple. The people here need the love that Christ promises us, but they need to see it, not hear about it. If we walk into a home, especially that of a muslim, and started preaching, we’re most likely going to end up destroying the relationships Global Hope has worked so hard to build. We need to enter into their home with a special kind of feeling about us that makes them curious as to what makes us different.
Today we visited the House of Ruth, where Global Hope is doing just that. The House of Ruth is a center where refugees and natives from that village can come, get medical treatment, learn english, or be taught skills to help them provide for their families. There is no weekly sermons or preaching of the Word. The most is the church next door, but besides the name, there’s no connection to the faith, but little by little this community is seeing the difference that Christianity can have on their lives.
I got the chance to interrupt their english class, and while that sounds and felt incredibly uncomfortable at first, I was greeted with the smiles of fifteen women, who were ecstatic to talk to an American. The two girls in the front row quickly started up a conversation, practicing their english to ask me question like my name and age. For some reason, everyone over here thinks I’m twenty or something, but these girls giggled at the truth of me being only eighteen and blushed when I told them how sweet and beautiful they were. Soon all the girls were asking questions. Most of them I had no clue how to respond, so I’d just stand there smiling until the whole room erupted in laughter. I’d up laughing along with them, and it would be on to the next question or until Rita could translate.
We even joined them for aerobics class, where we did what would basically be a pilates warm up in the States. We ran in place and threw two balls around. We ended up laughing more than actually working out, but I guess that’s a workout in itself. At the end, the girls had to return to classes or to their homes, but before they left, one of the girls from the front row hugged each one of us. She was half my size, but that was the first time I’d ever been hugged by a Syrian refugee. It was something that I’d been desiring for days, and there was nothing more unique and special. Her friend then proceeded to tease her about how small she was, but that just made us laugh again.
There was no bible verses or prayers, but that girl left with a softer heart and the knowledge that complete strangers from across the world cared about her. As the reason way, maybe one day she’ll ask about it. For now, I have to settle for not seeing the outcome of her story, and I’ll be honest; it sucks.
These people are so beautiful and loving, that to know that I may not see them in the end breaks my heart. It’s not my place though. This isn’t my story about how I converted a young girl; it’s my story of how I showed her love and brought her one step closer to the Lord. Her choice to follow Him is someone else’s story.
This is the way the Gospel should be preached. Not pushed into someone’s face with loud preaching and yelling. It should be shown with slow and patient love. Yes, we don’t know when the Lord is coming back, and yes, we want to see the fruit of our labor now. The thing is though life is not a race or a challenge to see who can convert the most people. It’s about allowing our faith shape our lives and affect us outwardly. That’s what catches the world’s attention.