I already get the impression this idea of moving in with Hispanic people might prove progressive and new to most ears and difficult to cultivate acceptance of. Having the idealist and weirdo creative heart that I do (often to a fault), I admit it’s going to be discouraging to be met with such immediate and palpable skepticism… even a lack of grace to even hear me out or wait long enough to form an educated opinion (or prayerfully consider). Even so, I fully understand the caution and reservation. The idealist side of me simply wishes it “didn’t have to be that way”.
I feel this is something bigger than just right now. This discovery might be something God develops in my heart and skill set over a lifetime starting now (well actually, it’s been going on inside me for several years, building up). I might not see huge fruit for several months or even years.
I see HUGE HUGE, HUGE, HUGE separation between ethnic groups and seemingly no desire to cross the lines and walls. Well, I for one can’t settle for that! I see it as a shame, and it’s not entirely “white man’s” fault. People of every nationality and background naturally congregate toward other like people. It doesn’t mean we hate each other, but it does mean we prefer comfort and ease over growth and diversity. I’m tired of that! No more for me!
For those that don’t want to grow in unity, I don’t judge them. It’s not everyone’s calling to pursue cross-cultural ministry. People can serve and follow Christ just as well where they are, amongst like people, and they are not disobedient or less Christ-like. However, having received (not generated) these thoughts and deep passions, I feel I would be disobedient to ignore or qualm them, or even to accept fear – from others or myself – as defeat.
This might mean that nothing happens over the next year when I hope to move in with some people. I can see it would take a very special type of person to consider this option. It might take several years of trust building before such a simple thing is possible or “culturally acceptable”. I won’t easily forget the idea though. Who knows, it might become part of the Spirit’s movement to reconcile His diverse Body back into one.
Shall we sit across the room from the “Gentiles” at separate tables because our influential friends are looking? Far be it from us! Even the apostle Peter was rebuked openly for doing this! I’m not even a Jew, so if there was excuse for distinction (which there is NOT), I have none. I’m a Gentile along with every other, and even that eons old wall of hostility is demolished in Christ!
It’s super easy for me to find a roommate from my own culture – I just ask around at church, at work, or even go on Craigslist and find a thousand friendly and willing strangers. Not one person would think I was freaky, creepy or imposing for seeking shared housing. It’s not a new or shocking idea. Just last night I scrolled through hundreds upon hundreds of craigslist ads written by people seeking roommates to save money. But for some odd (and annoying) reason – and this irks me – the idea of rooming with people from another culture is questioned and frowned upon as if some weird and dark motives are surely involved? WHAT?! Why can’t it be natural and even quite desirable? I surely desire it. It sounds like an awesome adventure, and not even that big of a deal! I really thought the goal was to overcome segregation, not question any movement that challenges it! And this coming from conservative white boy extreme! OK, I’m calm: don’t worry. Deep breath. But I admit frustration that this should be difficult. It seems basic to me.
I want to be a vessel to deconstruct some of this stone cold wall that separates us. Whether with my Hispanic brothers and sisters or some other culture (or my “own” – though I don’t like the distinction), I hope to be a catalyst for the opening of eyes, the softening of hearts. My heart has been broken a hundred times, and I assume a hundred more. My eyes have been partially opened as Saul to Paul, and more so every day that I submit my pride to the caring (yet stern) hands of my heavenly Father and His living and abiding Spirit in me. Stubbornness and selfishness are my only horrid bedfellows to make me stumble on the path. I’ve nothing but grown and learned through every painful step, and boy has this fragile heart seen pain! I consider it an honor and privilege if I inspire another person to consider some of the same. Many around me are already doing crazy stuff that cuts my heart to the quick, challenging me to consider deeper trust and faith in Christ. I say thank you!
Following Christ wasn’t meant to be easy. In fact we are promised the opposite repeatedly in Scripture. The only promise I’m aware of that resembles ease, comfort or “prosperity” comes through obeying and following Jesus. And trust me, He goes some places we wouldn’t dare go! This call to obedience, with it’s associated eternal and immediate blessings, often means patience through difficult, faith-building circumstances, and this life long, and sometimes blind! Even the hall of faith members in the book of Hebrews faced much trouble and never saw the promises stored up for fulfillment long after their deaths, promises for us. Should we expect “better” before we listen and follow? Must all the stars align to be our stepping stones?
Persecution, challenges and martyrdom are not goals to seek out as if virtuous. Nevertheless, if obedience and following Christ are accompanied with pain and difficulty (I believe such a coupling is an eternal promise and principle), we must throw off both sin and comfort that might hinder – as short or long as we are granted breath! I’ve done precious little to baby step myself along this path, but I’m not about to stop inching along, hopefully a giant stride or two here and there!
On an encouraging note, I talked to a pastor of a local Hispanic congregation over the phone today. While my housing proposition probably came across like a freak show, at least I made enough of an introduction to receive an invitation to join them for their Sunday service. Sweet! I can’t wait. I’ve been dreaming of this for a couple years and have been lazy to pursue it. Fortunately the service time allows me to both continue attending with my new Colossae family and to also thrive in an evening environment, connecting with some estranged family members with slightly different hair, skin, accent and traditions. Yeah! Let’s do it!
Lord, help me to learn Spanish expediently. It’s about time I put some serious effort into it, but even that is a loss without Your special aid. You know my rusty brain inside and out. Attune it to absorb and learn for the glory of Christ and the unity of Your people.