Ever have one of those gut-check moments where it’s like God thumps you on the head and says, “Hey! What are you thinking? Wake up.” Well, my head is still a little sore from the last big thump He gave me. He taught me a huge lesson that is going to forever affect my walk through a seemingly insignificant event.
Let me preface this story by saying that I am spending this year overseas. My purpose this year is to tell others about Him, and I consider it a huge privilege. Forgive me for not giving more details, but due to the fact that I am in a sensitive area of the world, I cannot say more. Just know that He has sent me half way around the world for the purpose of witnessing.
This summer, I was on a team of eight Americans whose purpose has just been explained. Our group worked together closely, and we ate all of our meals together. There was another American who started to eat his meals with us. His purpose in being here was obviously different than ours. Instantly, I pegged him. He was a Southern frat boy, and we could have grown up together. He could and would have run in my “circle” if we had gone to high school together, and if we had known each other in college, he would have been in the same frat as my guy friends. This guy could totally have fit into my “comfort zone.”
One day after lunch, I asked if I could use his Internet connection. He graciously agreed, and he watched a pirated DVD of Friends as I checked my email. Our conversation turned to college, and we took a trip down memory lane. Soon, I was laughing and telling crazy college stories. We talked about the fact that we wanted to live it up in our 20s, seize every moment, see the world and make lots of great memories.
Nothing was wrong per say with our conversation. However, I neglected to mention the fact that God has really been changing my selfish thoughts, and that my purpose these days is to go where He sends me … not just to store up a lot of good memories for some day when I am old and gray. I failed to truly witness, and I had a prime opportunity.
In fact, I wish on a daily basis that I could communicate with the people in this country in their native language or mine. Then we could have the kind of deep conversations I want to have with them about God. And there I sat, watching Friends, laughing about my crazy college days and leaving out the most important part of my life. I finished using the Internet and left his apartment. As I walked away, that is when it happened. God thumped me on the head, and suddenly I felt terribly convicted. I prayed for another chance to talk with my American friend, and He did indeed provide another chance for me to share those things of eternal significance.
In any case, that incident challenged my thought process. How can I be an effective witness here when I cannot even reach out to someone I can completely identify with? People often think that I am brave or special because He has chosen to use me abroad this year. The truth, though, is that it is sometimes actually harder to be consistent in your walk with Him when you are there in the United States with people just like you.
We take for granted the fact that we can talk about God whenever we want in the United States. We take for granted and assume that the people around us may already know about God. We decide the decision is theirs anyway. Why make things awkward by asking questions or talking about what He is doing in our lives? Is it really our place?
I am an American. No matter where I go in the world, I am an American. When people ask me about my nationality, I reply, “Je suis Americainne” or “Ich bin ein Amerikaner” or “Wo shir mei guiren,” which translated means, “I am an American.”
However, it is more importantly to point out that I am a Christian. No matter where I go, I am a Christian. And I am called to share with my fellow American friends just as much as I am called to be a witness away from home. So are you. He has called us to a life of consistency. We are called to live a consistent life sharing about the work He has done for us.