Just A Guy

Just A Guy

Monday, February 9, 2009

Of Willages and Wittamins

My church sponsored an event called Global Impact Celebration last week, in which missionaries from around the world came and visited with various groups at this 6000-member congregation, to give a glimpse into the life of a Christian missionary. It was, to say the least, enlightening.

Some of the missionaries were Americans, sent by various "sending agencies" to preach the gospel and plant churches in places like Thailand, Colombia, Costa Rica and (don't get ahead of me) France. Others are indigenous missionaries in, to name a few, Mexico, Pakistan, Ukraine, Cambodia (Kampuchea, as he informed us - "nobody in Cambodia knows what Cambodia is"). We listened in various venues as these missionaries, some in fluent but very strongly accented English, told of the roads they had traveled in bringing Christianity to places that had never heard of Jesus, or had no idea who He is. Suffice it to say, persecution - loss of job, social ostracism and, yes death - is alive and well throughout the world.

Though the relating of horrendous torture, long treks through frozen tundra, threats from Al Quaeda and simple (!) bureaucratic nightmares gave me pause - and cause to really admire these pioneers, the story that seems to me most tragic is the situation in Europe. I had a long conversation with Jim Biese, the area director for the Mission Society of United Methodists' European mission field. I could tell he'd heard the "tough job, having to live in Paris" quip more than once. Unlike the missionaries who take the gospel to people who have never heard of Jesus Christ, Jim spent over eight years trying to open dialogue with people who have seen the Church and rejected it: a "post-Christian" society, full of cynical people who think they know what Christianity is and have no use for it. They've grown beyond needing a spiritial placebo, they're arrogant in their self-reliance, they view believers as weak, ignorant people who cling to religion (does that sound familiar?) because they can't face the "real world".

How tragic. How (see my Carlin blog from a few days ago) unutterably sad. This is not the hot rage of Pakistani taleban or the ignorant indifference of Thai bhuddist materialists, this is cold, "reasoned" rejection of religion in any form. I am reminded of the parable of the evil spirit that is cast out, then returns to find the house swept clean and moves back in with more evil spirits: nothing good replaced the evil, and now the house is worse off than it was before the casting out occurred. My heart breaks for Europe, for those sophisticates who are so supremely self-confident that they blind themselves to both the physical threat of increasing numbers of Muslim immigrants with no wish to assimilate, and to the the eternal danger of an emptiness unfilled by the only One who can give them what they lack: wholeness and peace.

No comments:

Post a Comment