Wednesday, November 11, 2009
It took us 2 hours riding buses and a train and then another 2 hours walking to get to this wildlife park (Caversham Wildlife Park). It was so worth the journey.
Here are a few pictures from the base (meeting area, dining area, kitchen area), the city, and random fun:
Friday, October 9, 2009
Today I sat down to pray wondering if God would really speak to me or not. I felt kind of complacent, but I wanted to be open. So I sat down and I closed my eyes to shut everything out. I asked Him, “What do you want to show me?” and then I waited. A few random things came to mind. Then I saw a picture in my mind of a shadow cast during the daytime from a flagpole.
It was long and skinny and the light from the sun shone on everything else. I nearly skipped the picture, but then remembered that God speaks to us in pictures sometimes and about things and in ways we do not expect. So I continued to focus on the picture in my mind.
Then I felt God telling me, “Joel, you have a choice. All people have a choice,” and He went on to tell me about how the shadow represented the freedom people had who lived in their way without God, and the light represented the freedom people had who chose to follow Him and live more by His understanding, trusting He is love.
The idea was that the path we can take on our own is wide, most trodden, and seemingly to many people, freer. But in actuality, the path that is less trodden, the one that is pursuing God and living with Him as the center and is thinner perhaps, is the path that has more freedom, joy, truth, love, fullness, etc. It’s where the light dwells.
It is that those who live in the light of God’s understanding have this expanse of freedom while those who live by their understanding are limited.
Limited in changing the world. Limited in serving and loving others. Limited in reducing poverty. Limited in helping HIV/AIDS victims. Limited in experiencing a constant, true love.
Monday, October 5, 2009
“So what is your dream in life?”
“My dream? I want to be happy.”
“How about you?” I pondered the question for a second and turned back to face her.
“My dream is to learn more and more how to love God and love others, to learn how to serve other people with love.” The airplane continued to rise. I continued.
“We have so much freedom, me being from the
This was about 10 minutes into my conversation with the woman next to me on the airplane. She was 33. Born in
“Have you ever broken a bone?”
“No. Try to keep healthy,” she said in her broken English.
“Well, what’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?”
“You like to drink?”
“Yes, how about you?”
“I enjoy a beer with a meal here and there, and wine goes really well with some meals. I’ve felt buzzed before, but I’ve never been drunk. It’s something I have thought about throughout my life though. I don’t think it’s good when we let things take control of us whether it’s alcohol, cigarettes, watching television…” She laughed, and I could see a glimmer of understanding in her face at what I was getting at. I continued.
“There’s a man who once said, ‘Everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial.’”
We kept talking and then as the airplane leveled we went to doing our own things. I don’t know what she did, but I watched a film. A few hours later we resumed our conversation and at some point came to this:
“So do you keep in touch with your friends from university or high school?”
“Who do you drink with?”
“My friends from work.”
“Have you traveled to many places?”
This last question led to her asking me the same in return. We had about 40 minutes till landing. I started with, “I’ve been to many places since March, but none of it was my plan.” She looked at me waiting for me to continue. “There’s a story behind it. Do you mind if share it?”
“Go ahead,” was her reply.
Over the next 10 minutes I shared my life from how I ended up with the mission organization OMS International when I didn’t want to join, and what happened that led me to continuing with them overseas rather than finishing in April.
She listened attentively as I shared about God’s love in my life. As we continued with small-talk she made a few comments about the way I lived my life and the way I spoke about life as well. I would just tell her that it honestly was only because of God, which was the simple truth, a fact that cannot be changed.
With all the good I can accomplish with my own ideas and direction, God’s ideas and direction go much further in sharing true love.
What I in fact had shared with her was simple, my story. Or as some might say, my testimony. We had a lot of laughs and really enjoyed our time together. It was great.
“So, what is your idea about spirituality?” I asked, surprised at how confident I felt asking the question.
“My parents are Catholic, but I’m not. They don’t force me to be Catholic.
“That’s good. No one should have God forced on them. That’s never good.”
During our conversation at one point she asked for my e-mail. I was so glad she asked because I was pondering giving it to her anyway, but wasn’t sure about it and had prayed God would work it out for me to give her my e-mail without feeling uncomfortable.
Before we parted at Hong Kong airport she said, “If you come to
I can only thank God for our time together because I was so out of it and tired. I hadn’t had much sleep in the 2 weeks prior and I had gotten a really bad cold the day before…bleh. I had prayed that if God wanted to use me, He would do it regardless of my weakness. Then when she sat down next to me I suddenly felt I should say “hello.”
And that’s where it started.
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
“As for those agitators, I wish they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves!” (a.k.a. "cut off their you-know-what")
When I read this I was amazed. Paul, a man who met Jesus in a vision, was sharing his opinion of people who were shifting the focus of new believers from God himself to a method of being with God. I can't help but have a love and respect for the way Paul speaks about this issue in the church.
Paul is writing to new believers in the city of Galatia (around 50 A.D.) expressing frustration towards Jewish teachers who are trying to influence them, non-Jews, to live in relationship with God in the same way the nation of
In this letter one of his points is, “When you come to know God, don’t get circumcised!” which is a really big statement for that time.
From the very beginning of the nation of
The Galatians have been deceived. These new believers are in danger because they are close to removing their focus from God himself to a "method" of being with God. Even though circumcision has been around for thousands of years as an important part of the Israelites commitment to God Paul states that Jesus will have no value to these new believers if they follow it.
How often do people simply join the crowd in Christian communities? How often do people set their traditions and methods of living with God onto others? Who do we serve? God or methods and traditions.
But we can't stop here. If we want to know the truth we have to keep reading. People don't have free reign to relate to God however they want to or however they feel.
God is beyond traditions or methods or ways or laws, even if they've been around for thousands of years. And Paul knows that if people focus on meeting "requirements" and "traditions" instead of on the truth of who God is and what it means to pursue HIM, they will be bound by those things and therefore unable to walk in the power of the Spirit. But there's more. Paul continues by saying:
"For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love."
So what does this mean?
I think God is moving. He’s doing something new for a new people. He's being God (one who is above all things, full of understanding, the essence of true love for all people). He's being personal. This is exciting for me because it tells me that people haven’t reached the end of discovering how to relate to God or how He relates to us. It tells me that He’s not closed by a certain way to live with Him, but open to a way of life with all people that grows out of a relationship with Him...
...based on love, faithfulness, grace, forgiveness and truth.
"The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love." - Paul
p.s. -to read this section of the letter you can go to: http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Galatians%205:1-15&version=NLT
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Spirit and body.
I've been pondering these things as of late. The flesh. The spirit.
What are we made of? Is it more than chemicals? Is it more than physical?
I was talking with someone once about an experiment a Japanese researcher Masaru Emoto, did on water. As you may know the largest component of the human body and of the world itself is water.
Well, Mr. Emoto took glasses of water and after performing certain tests would freeze droplets of the water. Then he would examine them under a dark field microscope that had photographic capabilities.
One example of his research is testing these glasses of water with certain music. He took one glass and played positive music for a night. Then he would examine the crystals. He did the same with a glass of water he secluded to negative music. The result was that the water crystals that had been listening to the positive music were symmetrical and beautiful while the water crystals that had been listening to the negative music were jagged and contorted.
He also taped certain words and phrases on glasses over night like "You make me sick. I will kill you." and "Love and Appreciation" and there was the same effect.
It's been said that "from Mr. Emoto's work we are provided with factual evidence, that human vibrational energy, thoughts, words, ideas and music, affect the molecular structure of water."
Re-considering how much a role water plays as a part of all living things, these findings cannot help but cause me to wonder at what is in this earth that we cannot put our finger on.
Humans have been putting their fingers down on a lot of things in science, but as humanity digs its fingers deeper into the foundation of it all, rather than finding the final, solid puzzle piece to creation, they are finding things that seemingly have a kind of personality. (Check out Rob Bell's film called "Everything is Spiritual" to learn more about this.)
There's more studies and findings, but I'll end here so as not to make this too long.
All this is to say that science is beginning to find that there is more personality to the foundation of life than we might think, and perhaps some underlying, dare I say, Person.
This morning I read from Proverbs. The part that really stuck out to me was, "By wisdom the Lord laid the earth's foundations, by understanding he set the heavens in place; by His knowledge the deeps were divided, and the clouds let drop the dew."
[here's a website on Mr. Emoto where I got some of the info: http://www.life-enthusiast.com/twilight/research_emoto.htm]
Monday, August 31, 2009
He said that the two things in this world that cause problems and mess with peace are religion and politics. I had to agree.
At the time of the conversation I realized more about how I believe peace can be overrated. I came to the conclusion that I believe that there are some things that are more important than peace, like standing up to share what you know is true (This is only a simply way of stating the thoughts I had at the time…so I understand that some who read this will misinterpret what I mean by these words). Some examples of what I mean carried out are Martin Luther King and Jesus of course : )
Today I considered his words in a new light. I asked myself, “Who strikes who? Who starts to fight?” If you just look at news articles and testimonies it's easy to see that in
It’s Hindu people within those communities (not sure who it is among the Hindu people) who strike out with fists out of fear of having the community broken up by a new belief system that is unfamiliar to them, which makes sense from their perspective. One reason I think there is fear is because they misunderstand the new way of life that the people have chosen to receive and adopt (which is not a changing of their culture, but a fulfillment of true life in their culture). Because those people who meet Jesus and decide to follow him do not begin to live to hurt a community, but to build that community up in ways it could never have.
The one thing many Hindu people in
Coincidentally, when the Christians are persecuted more, people come to know God (from the side of the persecutors) because they see how the Christians respond, how they love their enemies and pray for them. The Christians do not strike back with fists, but with confidence in the truth and in their relationship with God and sharing the same love that God shared with them. It’s pretty amazing.
So in conclusion, the religious fighting that happens in this man’s country is not the primary cause of Christians’ actions or pursuits. It is something that happens because of fear from the Hindu people in the community. The Christians aren’t fighting for their way of life, they’re living for it. The only thing Christians have to fight is the spiritual forces that try to distract them and keep them from pursuing God and His kingdom.
HERE IS AN ARTICLE OF PROOF WORTH READING
HERE IS AN ARTICLE OF PROOF WORTH READING
(Actually this is a letter from a pastor, but there are also articles of this massacre)
(Actually this is a letter from a pastor, but there are also articles of this massacre)
On Tue, Sep 30, 2008 at 3:49 PM, Joel LeMaire <email@example.com> wrote:
this is an e-mail sent from a man in
URGENT PRAYER REQUEST!
AUGUST 27, 2008
Dear beloved sponsors and friends of GNI,
We have never seen anything like this.
We knew that Orissa was the most resistant and hostile State in
But none of our staff imagined that they would see this kind of carnage....
And it seems to be totally under the radar of the
A militant Hindu priest and 4 of his attendants, who were zealously going around the villages of Orissa and "reconverting" people back to Hinduism, were gunned down by unknown assailants in
Immediately the Christians were blamed. The cry rose up..."Kill the Christians!"
And the horror began....
In the past 4 days, we have first hand witness to hundreds of churches being blown up or burned and many, many dozens of Christian tribals have been slaughtered. For no other reason than they bear the name of Christ.
Night and day I have been in touch with our Good News
In Tihidi, just after the police came to offer protection, a group of 70 blood-thirsty militants came to kill our staff and destroy the home. They were not allowed to get in, but they did a lot of damage to our
In Kalahandi, the police and some local sympathizers got to our dream center and gave our staff and kids about 3 minutes notice to vacate. No one had time to even grab a change of clothes or any personal belonging. As they fled, the blood thirsty mob came to kill everyone in the building. We would have had a mass funeral there, but for His grace.
In Phulbani, the mob came looking for Christian homes and missions. The local Hindu people, our neighbors turned them away by saying that there were no Christians in this area. So they left. We had favor. The same thing happened in Balasore.
All our dream centers are under lock down with the kids and staff huddled inside and police outside. The fanatics are circling outside waiting for a chance to kill.
Others were not so fortunate. In a nearby Catholic orphanage, the mob allowed the kids to leave and locked up a Priest and a computer teacher in a house and burned them to death. Many believers have been killed and hacked into pieces and left on the road.... even women and children.
At another orphanage run by another organization, when this began, the Director and his wife jumped on their motorbike and simply fled, leaving all the children and staff behind. Every one of our GNI directors that I have spoken to said: "We stay with our kids.... we live together or die together, but we will never abandon what God has called us to do."
More than 5000 Christian families have had their homes burned or destroyed. They have fled into the jungles and are living in great fear waiting for the authorities to bring about peace. But so far, no peace is foreseen. This will continue for another 10 days.... supposedly the 14 day mourning period for the slain Hindu priest. Many more Christians will die and their houses destroyed. Many more churches will be smashed down.
The Federal government is trying to restore order and perhaps things will calm down. We ask for your prayers. Only the Hand of God can calm this storm. None of us know the meaning of persecution. But now our kids and staff know what that means. So many of our kids coming from Hindu backgrounds are confused and totally bewildered at what is happening around them. So many of their guardians have fled into the jungles and are unable to come and get them during these trying times.
Through all this, I am more determined than ever to continue with our goal: the transformation of a community by transforming its children. Orissa will be saved... that is our heart's cry. If we can take these thousands of throw away children and help them to become disciples of Jesus, they will be transform an entire region. It is a long term goal, but it is strategic thinking in terms of the Great Commission.
What can you do? First, please uphold all this in fervent prayer. Second, pass this e-mail on to as many friends as you can. We must get the word out and increase our prayer base for this is spiritual warfare at its most basic meaning. We are literally fighting the devil in order to live for His Kingdom.
The next 10 days are crucial. We pray for peace and calm to pervade across Orissa.
Thank you for taking the time to read this. Please pass it on and help us to get as many people to partner with us on this cutting edge effort to fulfill His mandate: Go and make disciples of all nations....
Dr. Faiz Rahman
If you’d like a more recent article of these things, I can send it to you.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
The first day I was there I was asked to lead worship. I had five minutes to practice with the band, which was put together in two minutes with two of the new students who were already uncomfortable in the unfamiliar environment as it was. I prayed for the Holy Spirit to move and just led the time keeping my focus more on God than on the music.
One student surprised me later in the week when I received a note saying "I'm so glad to meet you. First I met you in Monday worship, I feel Holy Spirit come worship." And another girl wrote to me saying "I thank God when you lead to worship song, I could feel warmth in holy sprit." These were students who probably couldn't even read or understand all of the songs that I had picked to play. The day before that, I found another note from one of the people on the short-term missions team that had been formed before I arrived saying, "You have been such a wonderful asset to our team. God took a negative and made it a positive."
I've been humbled to know that even with my weaknesses God is moving and He wants to do things through me (through anyone) that has nothing to do with my ability to do, but by His purpose and my faith expressing itself in love to Him and to others.
Monday, July 27, 2009
While traveling I was pretty tired and wishing I wasn't leaving the students in Central Asia, so I wasn’t really up for looking around to see if I could help anyone. It was tempting to think, "I'm traveling to begin ministry somewhere else. Why should I look to go out of my way to share the kingdom of God in transition?" Even so, I still prayed that if someone needed me, God would put them in my path and the Holy Spirit would help me share the kingdom of God with them .
When the plane landed in Seoul, Korea I noticed another guy who looked like he was from Europe (the only one). I was already making conversation with some Korean guys I had met on the plane (in English of course : ), but as we made our way to customs I felt that I should introduce myself.
The Korean guys gave me their information and went ahead. I said hello and began making small-talk. It turned out that he was from Holland, had a business in Central Asia, and was visiting a friend in Korea and might be here for some time. His name was Leon.
Our flight was four hours late making our arrival around 1:30am. Because of the time his friend wasn’t able to pick him up, which meant that he had no where to go, no phone, and everything was closed down. Here was God's answer.
I went through customs with him and in the end he joined me and slept in the room my host had prepared for me. During our time together he shared with me about his life and I was able to share about my life and what living for the kingdom of God meant to me.
Today I said goodbye as he went on his way to find his friend. We exchanged information so I hope to see him more while I’m here.
For the next week I’ll be helping with an English camp and then see what else is in the Plan.
I’m sad to have to leave Central Asia.
Basically I was going to help prepare for English classes for the next college semester and prepare to even help teach some at the University. Unfortunately, within a few days the government asked the professor who I was going to assist to leave because they became suspicious about his connections with a large organization outside of the country, OMS International.
In this country there is so much need/desire to keep control of everyone and everything so foreigners are watched all the time (phones and internet are even watched, among other things).
At first, I was still allowed to stay at the University, but a week later, the day after the riot started, I was also asked to leave.
SO, within the past three weeks a lot has happened. I met some of the students and teachers who have met Jesus and began to spend a decent amount of time with a few of them (as well as making friends with other students who could be open to the Way). I love sharing the kingdom of God with others. I was so encouraged by the students’ generosity and hospitality. During my time there I was able to encourage them as they would be losing their spiritual leader, the professor, within a few weeks. He had been working there for 7 years.
I was able to challenge the students toward taking initiative like their professor had in sharing the kingdom of God with others (love, hospitality, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, generosity, faithfulness, purity, self-control…), not to be afraid, but to give their days to the Holy Spirit who is our Guide and Teacher and Helper, and will give us the ability to do all things in Jesus’ name.
Anyway, I plan on keeping in touch with them and see how they are doing when they have internet returned to the province – perhaps in October.
Monday, May 18, 2009
My heart is unsure of what can be understood unless a person were to enter me and feel what I have felt, see what I have seen, touch what I have touched, and set foot where my feet have been...
My time here has been very good...in many ways.
One of my favorite things to do (and this is a very simple thing) is riding in an auto rickshaw down the road, buzzing through and around traffic like a little fish watching everything around me as it passes by with the Indian dance music blaring from the speakers behind me.
Sunday, May 3, 2009
I may go to the Home for the Dying during the first couple weeks as I familiarize myself with the city.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Probably the greatest thing I learned was the importance of maintaining relationships. I’ve never spent so much time with people sitting together after meals. The family I lived with were so close…in fact, all of the families that I met were close. The best times I had were having tea or coffee after dinner or late at night (after another dinner).
I was also challenged by the people who followed Jesus. They understood that they were not to rely on the doors of the building to be the church, but that they were the doors. They resolved not to only “go” to the social gathering of believers, to only be fed once a week, but to begin to learn to walk as Jesus did in the streets, at work, etc. Many of them understand the power of God’s love and are carrying that into their communities. And it’s really hard ground in Spain. Most people don’t care whatsoever about what Jesus taught.
I’ve learned other things as well, like talking in my sleep, not only in English, but also in Spanish. I also have begun to think in Spanish more. Granted, I’m still not awesome at Spanish, but it’s getting better.
I’ve been thinking about brother Lawrence (reading "The Practice of the Presence of God) and his life and how he lived and I’m baffled by him even when I read part of a page. I pray that God will help me to let go of all that I’m holding onto because I can’t seem to do it out of my own will, even though I know that what He offers cannot even be expressed in words. I think part of my journey will need to be growing in who I am as an individual.
At one point I wrote in my journal, “Sometimes it's better to simply enjoy life rather than always trying to "live" it. I struggle with this.” I am learning to simply enjoy what I have, where I am, etc. I don’t always have to be trying to learn more, do more, etc. I need to practice resting in who I am and where I am.
Thursday, April 16, 2009
One thing I always joke around with Gardenia (my mom) is that I always smell good. She knows I don't shower every day and so earlier this morning, when she gave me a thermometer to put in my armpit to see if I had a fever I told her not to worry, that it would smell wonderful once I was done using it. She laughed so hard.
Even now, I was just saying I needed a shower and Gardenia (my house mom) said, "Yes, you should!" And then I said, "Not because of any smell. It smells good. Only because of my hair."
They also laugh at me a lot when I'm tired because I don't make a lot of sense (especially in Spanish) and I act more like a little kid. They get such a kick out of my attempts to speak sometimes.
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
Luis has explained to me that the youth live with their families, but hang out in the streets most of the time with drugs, alcohol, and sex as their salvation, their life.
Luis and I drive around to their hang-out spots (usually in parks or on side streets), and Luis talks with them. I say Luis talks with them because I just stand there. The Spanish in Spain is different from Latin American Spanish so it’s even harder for me to communicate with the youth than it is with my family or Luis, which isn’t always easy in itself. So I stand, listen, and pray.
This past week Luis had four guys over to his apartment. These guys knew him before and after his change and he’s been sharing, little by little, the grace of God with them. They’ve never been ready to accept, but that day, after watching a film called “The Switchblade and the Cross,” as I sat there sitting, listening, and praying things were different. After some discussion three of them chose to follow Jesus. Luis and I prayed for them and since then have talked with them some more.
This past meal I had I was asked at least 10 times if I liked the food. This is normal.
It’s like I don’t know how to be with God.
I recently read my mom's words from when I was a child with my twin sister. For me, walking became more natural than my twin sister. But as we came to an age where both of us could walk, I was more timid than she was in taking on challenges, like going down a stair.
Even though I was better and running and walking I would walk up to the edge, turn around, and shimmy over it backwards because I was afraid of falling. She would run and jump.
I think this also happens to me in my relationship with God. I often go slowly to make sure I don't fall, even though I have the capability to run and jump.
Saturday, April 4, 2009
To say “straight” here you say the word “torrecto”. I kept forgetting what the word was when asking for direction and would say “torro”, which is for a bull fight. In the end there were a lot of laughs and I received the nickname Mr. Torro : )
(The follow video is of my first day in Spain)
(This is a fun update of me in a park last week)
Onto Other Cultural Stuff...
On my first day in Spain David, my host, explained the very different daily schedule that people in Spain have. Generally, the workday starts around nine, though some start at eight and still others at ten or eleven. This means they work till later at night.
We usually have breakfast between 10:30 and 12:30pm. Then we do some stuff. Then we have lunch around 3 or 4pm. Then we have dinner at 8ish. Then we have another meal around 11 or even later sometimes. After meals we usually have tea or coffee and sit and talk. I really like that part of the culture because we actually take time to slow down and be with each other. So yeah...four meals a day, one because more of a snack either during the day or later at night.
My first day in Spain my greeting to a man on the street was ignored. Robert, a missionary here from the US, said, “It’s very different here from Latin America. People don’t say hello to people they don’t know. And if you do say hello to a stranger, they might look at you with a face that says, ‘Do I know you from somewhere?”
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
Whenever I drive in the United States people tend to get uncomfortable because I’m more fluid with the road, generally unpredictable, and more-so aggressive, but that is perfect driving here in Bangladesh. A person here wouldn’t make it if they couldn’t drive like that.
Monday, March 30, 2009
So, to raise support for missions I'm filming a video of me dancing in each country and making a list of people who pledge a certain amount (like $10 for each country I make a dance video in) to receive the links to the videos. This gives you something fun to watch and challenges me to step out of my comfort zone to ask strangers in other countries to dance with me on film.
If you want to be on the list just let me know with the amount you want to pledge. Then I can let you know where to send your donations.
(below in this blog and another blog are some other videos I've taken in Bangladesh)
This was the welcome party to the children's home we visited in the north of Bangladesh. They held our hands and led us into the field where they surrounded us with singing, which was awesome : )
This is some video in the last hour of our all-night train ride from the south to the north.
This was a cultural dance some of the children performed for us at a children's home in the capital city, Dhaka.
Apparently he was sharing the gospel in a Hindu community for the past 6 months. People began coming to him asking to know more about Jesus. Today 180 people were supposed to be baptized.
The Hindu radicals heard about the baptism and disturbed the people while they were worshiping that morning, waiting for us to arrive to be there with them during the service. One reason was because they were upset at what the belief change could do to the unity of their community.
The Hindu men told this pastor, Gotum, as he was talking to them that he would be beaten for each word he spoke if he didn’t shut up. He was pulled out into the street, his bike broken, and was beaten. He escaped then with the list of the people who were there to be baptized, a very important list that if taken by the Hindu men would be very bad for the people there.
Gotum expressed that he believed the church would grow bigger because of what happened. He has prepared the people for this reaction from the Hindu community. They knew they would be persecuted.
Unfortunately this isn’t over. He gave the list to another person in case he was taken by the radicals to ensure they wouldn’t get it because now he may be hunted down.
[A Variety of Responses]
One man from the US talked with the spiritual leader of the pastor who had been persecuted about pastoral care the spiritual leader said, “Don’t worry. We know how to handle this. I’ve been beaten before, and so has that man over there as well. We know what to do. We’ll take care of him.”
Those from the US gathered around the man and were very concerned and compassionate. One of the people in our group from Myanmar didn’t make the persecution such a big deal.
He explained that it’s a part of life. He’s been beaten and had rocks thrown at him multiple times, and it’s normal part of life.
My personal response was kind of like the guy from Myanmar. I had compassion and concern for the pastor, but I knew that he was prepared for it, that he knew it was a part of what he was doing in His own country and he knew that God was with him. So I was interested in listening to him tell the story of what happened and I wanted to encourage him, but I didn't feel like making it into a huge ordeal.
My home is made in God’s call on my life each day. My home is made in wherever He guides me. Thinking about this reminds me of the part of the New Testament where the writer of 1 Peter tells his readers to live as strangers in the world. So even if I had a “home”, a familiar place where I lived, I should not place my hope in that being my home. My home is beyond all of this and I will find myself there when I die.
The power goes out fairly often considering it rarely goes out in the US. I was talking with a man on the bus yesterday who does not have internet where he lives in Bangladesh, 20 kilometers east of Dhaka, the capitol city.
Many of the buses run on natural gas, which keeps the pollution down. The traffic on roads is very fluid. It’s less like a road and more like a river. Drivers can drive on any side of the road (generally the left side) as long as no one else is there. Where there are lines, they don’t mean much. There are bicycles everywhere carrying people, goods, etc. They share the road with cars, which from what I’ve seen, dangerous.
The country was once East Pakistan, but in 1949 it fought for independence and became Bangladesh. It used to be all together with India and West Pakistan, but because of religious issues between Muslims and Hindus the British government created the separate countries of India and West and East Pakistan. So Bangladesh is mostly Muslim while most of India is Hindu.
Since I’ve learned a descent amount of Spanish, from hearing Bengali, I have recognized some similarities, which surprises me.
“What?” – in Spanish: Que? - in Bengali: Qui?
“Shirt” – in Spanish: camiseta - in Bengali: camis
“Key” – in Spanish: llave - in Bengali: llavi
I’ve only learned a few words and phrases that have come in handy in my time here. Even my Hindi has come in handy because it’s close to Bengali.
The man who I spoke to on the bus the other day explained the cultural custom of choosing a wife in Bangladesh where the families negotiate before marriage. It is best to have a matchmaker bring the families together and suggest marriage. There is a dowry as well that the family with the daughter must give to the family with the son.
Customs such as using the only the right hand and not touching peoples’ head is normal. People will take off their shoes when entering another person’s home. Sandals are normal footwear, even for businessmen (one of my favorite parts of this culture), though they often wear shoes as well. It is not uncommon for men to hold hands, which I don’t mind either. I’m actually very comfortable with that. I also like the music; and the food...mmmmm, yummy.
Thursday, March 26, 2009
"Patience and perseverance are two words that should be intimately connected in our lives. Together they are a peaceful understanding that God is with us and He is Love." - journal March 25, 2009
I've already learned a good deal simply as I begin this year of travel. This one-year journey that has intersected with my journey of learning to listen to and follow God's "voice" is only a small piece of my mysterious life.
I was thinking about how I was leaving everything familiar behind. I've thought of the people who I left back at home, but there's more to it. I was reminded that this is not home. 1 Peter came to my mind when the author talks about living as strangers here. Understanding this gives me more peace in leaving everything that feels like "home" for this year.
Thursday, January 15, 2009
While I was there, a something sparked in my mind. I thought to myself, "This is probably where Jesus would have been." I remembered that during his life, some of the "religious people" of his time called him a drunkard when he walked down the street not because he was drunk, but because it was drunkards, prostitutes, and tax collectors, the rejected ones of society (rich and poor) who he spent a lot, if not most, of his time with. I remembered that at one point a "religious ruler" confronted Jesus about the people he touched, ate with, and loved wondering why Jesus was not eating and carrying on with the Pharisees who devoted their life to living perfectly for "God" having, for instance, memorized the entire Old Testament among other things. In response Jesus basically said, "Like a doctor, I did not come for the healthy, but the sick." Looking at his life one can see that he came for those who have needs and are willing to admit it.
Earlier that week I read that God listened to all music (rap, reggae, rock, gospel, folk, country...)...and He didn't focus on the words people said. The author pointed out that He sees everyone's heart behind every word, and His love goes deep for each one. I think this can probably be applied to everything external a person says or does.
While I was there I saw people with the eyes of Jesus rather than the eyes of a "religious ruler." I saw everyone in the auditorium as beautiful. I could feel His love for every individual.