Friday, March 30, 2012
The Campaign - Becky
Well, apparently, a campaign here is basically a Church of Christ gospel meeting. The plan for this particular campaign is to meet at the church building for an hour each night from Thursday to Saturday. Each night is to consist of (more or less) a regular church service with singing, preaching, and praying, except that it is completely conducted and attended by women. Prior to these meetings, some of the ladies visited the homes of various women who are not already in the Church, and they advertised with signs and announcements in the street. Again, the skeptic in me really hoped these ladies wouldn't end up disappointed by a bad turnout after they had worked SO HARD. Maybe I just doubted that any person who is not already a Christian would want to show up for something like that. In the States, from my perspective this kind of thing is pretty old school.
I have to remind myself, though, that Nicaragua is not the United States. I guess they like these things here because we had more people in that building than I have ever seen, I would guess twice as many as we normally have on a good, "full" Sunday morning (which includes both men and women). I was impressed. Despite the fact that I was surprised by having to lead singing with a microphone, I was impressed by how seriously they were taking the whole thing. I was impressed by the confidence of the girl who gave the sermon. I was impressed by the table of books and pamphlets they had set up by the door. I was impressed by how welcoming the whole thing felt. Contrary to my fears, no one was yelling at the "sinners" to "repent," and the people in attendance actually seemed to participate wholeheartedly. Everyone was very gracious and encouraging towards me as a "gringa" trying to sing (in front of everyone, over a microphone) in Spanish.
We still have two nights to go, but so far I am VERY PROUD of "my" ladies. They have been enthusiastic about this from the beginning, and they are pulling it off wonderfully. Of course, as one of them pointed out tonight, God is the one who is really doing it. This is HIS thing, and we are just His instruments... which brings me to my point:
Who am I to judge someone else's servant?
Obviously, since I am now a missionary, I have come to some different conclusions than before. I am still far from where I need to be in my thinking (and practice) of evangelism, but it has become a very huge priority to me now (like, the biggest priority of all) to try to bring people closer to God. Before, my motivation was fear. Now (I hope, at least most of the time), my motivation is love. I do have some specific thoughts on what methods of evangelism may be more effective in different situations, and I have started to figure out which of those methods work better with my personality. For example, I know that I fear rejection of my message, but, even more, I fear being cheesy (hence my initial reluctance to join a "campaign"). Rather than confronting people with my "churchiness" head on, I prefer to encourage people through relationship. What is most comfortable for me is to to give people that I know personally a whole lot of love and then to talk about spiritual things when they come up naturally. (Although I have failed MISERABLY at this more times than I want to remember, you'd be surprised how often spiritual things DO come up in a loving friendship.) I guess that way I am using words AND example. There are other evangelism methods that I will employ, even though they are not as comfortable for me. Because of the whole love thing, I want to do whatever I need to do to help reconcile people with God.
Okay, that sounds good, but the bad thing is that I am at a point now where I have strong opinions about evangelism (how to spread the message and, also, what message to spread), and, unfortunately, many of those opinions come with baggage. Not only do I get snobbish about how I want to go about evangelizing but I may start to look down on how someone else goes about it. However, my experience with the campaign reminds me (I will repeat what I said earlier), Who am I to judge someone else's servant? In all of my evangelism efforts, the point is to reconcile people to God. But, that's God's thing. Yes, I believe that it is the responsibility of those of us who are part of the Body of Christ to reach out to others, but God is the actual "recipient," if you will. Humans are HIS people, and He is the one who has had the plan all along for making right our relationship with Him. In trying to help with this, I am only His servant. If He calls someone to minister in a different way than He does me, what is that to me? Yes, I should think seriously about different evangelism methods and weigh out what seems to make sense, but when the sweet women of a little congregation in Jinotega want to go old school (well, "old school" to me, not to them), I should roll with it and give them the support that they need.
Speaking of evangelism methods, really one of my main goals is to give as much help as possible to the locals here who are already ministering to their own people. And they DO. Even beyond this women's thing, so much of the evangelism that happens here is Nicaraguan to Nicaraguan, and I LOVE THAT. They do need help (in the form of various resources, as well as someone to preach/sing/pray alongside them), but they have such fervor about what they are trying to do. If I can get my nose out of the air and acknowledge that they actually do know more than I do about what their own people want and need, I feel like God can really do something good through us.
So, what are YOUR thoughts on evangelism? Do you ever feel bothered by how others evangelize? Are there times when it is right to question how evangelism is done, or do you think that any way of preaching Christ is valid?