I remembered being awed when a new family started worshiping at my childhood church. They were lifetime missionaries in Africa, and they had come home in order to get nursing degrees. The degrees were part of a strategy to be better prepared to serve the African people they loved.
During their time in the United States, they lived in a very modest house which had no television or other distractions. Their car had no amenities, and they lived in a very plain manner. It was easy to see that they had very focused plans for their lives and did not want to lose their momentum or direction.
As an adult, it occurred to me that I had been witness to what it looks like when a vision takes over a person’s life. Not merely entertains, but captivates, consumes, and ignites.
They finished their degrees and went back to Africa, only returning to the U.S. at an old age after they had spent their lives in obedience to a call.
I wondered what they thought about the American church. Did they see how spoiled it is? Did they ache for a return to the people they loved? Did they see Americans as silly and shallow based on the things we pursue and give our lives to?
By contrast, some pastors I once knew prayed, “Lord send me anywhere you wish, as long as it is in my home state.” They were serious. They wanted a cushy salary and a life of convenience.
Our church’s African missionary family prayed, “Lord send us where you want us serving.” Period. No conditions. Completely dependent on God.
These missionaries to Africa come to mind when I read about Paul the apostle’s journeys westward from Jerusalem. He left home, kinsmen, and safety on a mission he believed was divinely inspired. He suffered every kind of abuse, but it did not deter him from his call.
I sometime wonder if we in the West aren’t just playing church. What would happen if we had to go to Lystra with Paul? Or to Africa with my friends?
3 thoughts on “Playing Church”
I cannot quite picture Paul getting off the Damascus Road and turning onto I-80 entering into Chicago, he would be quite shocked. I would imagine at the first church that he entered.
The missionaries you mentioned from Africa sound like old friends of ours Ed and Ruth Noren they served in Zaire or the Congo all their lives, and I believe their children are still serving there as doctors and nurses. They were on home leave, and served in our church at Lake Norden, South Dakota. The Evangelical Covenant Church for a couple years. They lived similar lifestyles to the people you describe in Playing Church. Completely committed to serving.
I hope you and yours are well out there in sunny California. Spring has arrived here finally, people are getting over their bronchitis coughs from the winter.
God bless, be well.
Loving In Christ
Always nice to hear from you Leland. Yes, I imagine that there would be much for Paul to be shocked by, although I think that we don’t have anything over the 7 churches of Asia. We humans are interesting beings, aren’t we? And I’m thankful for people like the missionaries you mentioned that keep reminding us of true north. Blessings to you.
As he entered Chicago, he would find one of the largest churches in the nation with Hollywood stage shows, performed several times a day. Because it’s the fastest growing church with live productions.
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