Sunday, June 29, 2008

Philippians 3:7-11

Carolyn got back this morning - her team actually missed a connecting flight and had to stay in Houston overnight. It is so great to have her home! She is still trying to recover from jet lag, so it may be a while until she is "normal" again. She is taking over Kellie's room and enjoying the space. It's been a long time since we've had our own rooms at home (even though these rooms really aren't ours)!

She shared many stories about her trip with the family. I got a kick out of the text messages that were sent to people on her team from some of the North Africans they met. They sounded like inspirational quotes or things from greeting cards, yet these people were completely serious! Here are some they got:

"Friendship is like a war: easy to start, difficult to end, impossible to forget. So I'm starting a war with you. I hope you don't want peace."

"I must have been born under a lucky star to find a friend as nice as you are. I will follow the rainbow to the end if you promise to remain my friend." (Sent to a guy from a guy...!)

"The day you came to the world it was raining. But actually it wasn't raining. It was the angels' tears because they had lost one of them...!" (Carolyn got send this one!)

I laughed. The North Africans sound so sweet and amazing. They have the gift of hospitality to a degree that is completely foreign to us. Families would invite Carolyn and her team over to their houses, allowing them to stay all day and encouraging them to take naps (on their beds!) in the middle of the day. Some of the mothers would even make the girls try on their wedding dresses, and take pictures of them wearing them. Can you believe that?? They would feed the kids and care for them, even though these families had very little. It impresses me that there are people like this in the world, when in the United States, everything is so private and personal. We have so much and share so little. We don't trust our neighbors and normally would not even think of allowing strangers in our houses. Let them take a nap?? On our beds?? That's absurd!

I really want to learn hospitality more. I hope to become better at this as I get older. I want to extend hospitality in my own home in a way that is not normally seen in this country. I'm not very good at things like this, but the Bible instructs us to! And without grumbling! (Romans 12:13, 1 Peter 4:9)

Carolyn and her team shared the good news about Jesus Christ with 115 people during the six weeks they were there. Persecution of Christians is insane there. One girl accepted Christ as her Savior and was slapped by her father when she told him. She knew what she would face by accepting Christ. This was no surprise to her. She still decided to be born again. By becoming a Christian, she completely forfeited everything - a life of comfort, acceptance, marriage etc. This girl will face hardship, ridicule and persecution for the rest of her life because she is no longer Muslim. Can you imagine? Yet she saw that everything - her whole life - was rubbish compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ (Philippians 3:8). Pray for this girl. Pray that a discipler would be provided for her. There are only 350 Christians in the country Carolyn went to. There are tens of millions of people. It is going to be a tough road for this faithful young woman.

Did you know that there are 99 names for Allah, but not one of them is "Love"?? These people fear Allah. They are distant from him. One girl was asked by a team member what her greatest fear was. Her answer was, "God". To me, this seems crazy. I can have a close, personal relationship with my God - the Creator of the Universe who loves me unconditionally and accepts me where I am. I am not scared of Him. I am loved by Him! But this is not something experienced by these North Africans. They live on a points system: the more points you get, the better chance you have of getting into Heaven. No wonder they are scared of their God! They have no way of knowing whether or not he is going to accept or reject them! Constantly striving to live a good life leaves you tired, upset, frustrated and let down. You will never reach the level of "goodness" you want to reach. It is so hard for me to imagine a lifetime of guilt and shame. I would beat myself up after ever evil act, trying so hard to make it up with "good" deeds. I would feel like a failure until the day I died.

Please pray for these North African people. I wish I knew more about the way they live and what they believe, but my knowledge is limited. I'm sure Carolyn could tell you much more.

I am going to bed now. I love you all.


Lindsay Christine said...

Katie...i found your blog through a long string of blog reading and linking to comments. Anyways, I really liked reading this post. Thanks for sharing about the North Africans. It's interesting to think about how greedy we can be and in contrast how joyous it is to share everything. Well, thanks for posting.