American churches?

While I have been travelling to visit various churches in the USA, I have been surprised by many things. Some are positive things, others are negative things. Some excite me, others sadden me.

  I love to meet pastors and their wives around the country. I am excited to hear their joy in serving, the things that brighten their eyes as they share. But so many are hurting. They have been “abused” by their elders and churches. They struggle to make ends meet. They are attempting to share their hearts and preach what God has laid on their hearts but yet they are blocked at every turn.  Most of the time it is the strong Christians in the church doing the harm.

  I am excited to see the mission-minded hearts of congregations who send out short term teams and support missions. I am saddened by churches who are only looking inward to their own needs and don’t see the needs of their community.  

  Most churches are welcoming and someone greets you and asks more about you. But there are the few churches where I attend and no one even greets me.  Do they not want visitors? 

  How exciting it was to see that youth group made up of multi-cultural kids all wanted to learn more about the Lord.

  How sad it was to see the frowns on faces when an announcement was made about serving in the homeless district downtown.

  All churches are hurting, all have problems – because a local church is made of human beings, we bring our sinful nature with us. But we need to be proactive in welcoming visitors, in spreading the Gospel, in serving their community, in caring for their pastors, etc…

  I don’t want to judge, because I know that I too can fail.  We must each think of what we can do and how we can change.

mourning

We must learn to mourn as cross cultural workers. We are always saying Good-byes and Hellos. We are often moving from here to there. Our co-workers are moving to other areas of the world as well.  We come from many different backgrounds.  We have experiences that make us who we are. 

When a missionary gets a diagnosis of cancer or other illness. It is devastating and yet it means way more than what it may mean for someone at home. We must leave our home and most likely lose our job. We must rush to decent doctors and leave behind our place of comfort and peace.  Even is there are decent doctors in your host country, you must often leave the “village” and live in hotels and eat at restaurants for the time of treatment.

One of the most frustrating things in our lives is the ever-changing community dynamics in our lives. Time after time blogs and articles are written about our community and it’s constant Good-byes.  To remain healthy, we need to learn how to say Good-bye. We need to learn how to mourn our losses. If we neglect to mourn, we cannot heal.  Good-byes are like a little dying each time.  We have to learn to grieve in a healthy way. We have to learn to let go and remember. We need to take the good memories with us and let the bad memories stay behind.

If God has called you to cross cultural ministry, then He can help you heal and help you to feel even when you don’t want to feel pain any more. He will help you learn to love and care for people, even if it’s only for a short time. You see it is so much easier to let your heart become hard and not to let it hurt.

So we must learn to love and care even though we will be hurt.  We must learn to grieve and mourn as friends move away. We must learn to say Hello and welcome new comers with open arms. We must not let the walls build up around our hearts in defense.