Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The second letter

Hi Naomi,

Thanks for your reply, and just think of me as another friend in your lap-top — and as much as it was necessary for you to write, it was a comfort to me. God truly does comfort “us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God” (2 Cor 1:3-4).

You mention that as you wrote the book you were still dealing with issues of poverty, even though you had learnt early on to conceal your sense of guilt. That sense of guilt plagues me, to. I feel guilty about nice holidays, about going home to have a baby, even about the amount of food stored in our cupboards. I think guilt should lead to confession of sin, repentance and change. What exactly am I guilty of? What about corporately, as a society? Are we guilty? What can we do? How has dealing with these issues changed you and the way you live now?

And then I also struggle with the balance between wanting to help deal with poverty and sickness — a task that would be all consuming on its own — and proclaiming the gospel (or training others to do so), which is why we are here. It’s not a new problem … the miracle-working-healer Jesus left the sick to go and preach the kingdom of God ... the apostles appointed others to do work of helping the widows so they could preach the word. There just seems to be so much shallow Christianity here, and it seems to be promoted by wrapping the gospel in humanitarian aid … hey, you guys let us build a church and we’ll also give you a water tank, or we’ll pay school fees for your children … or here’s some scabies cream. I just want to hold out the gospel and nothing else and see who bites … but then I feel guilty because I have something else. It's got to be about love, hasn’t it? Gospel love; word and deed. So I loved that your work did point people to Christ. I loved the stories of Mukti and Maili and of Chandra reading Revelation 21.

And yes, learning a new language and culture is completely humbling. A friend said to me, after I had given a devotional talk that I had spent hours preparing, “Don’t worry, God knew what you were saying!” It really feels, as you said, like being a little child ... unable to dress, cook, walk or talk. You brought into focus this verse for me:

I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it. (Luke 18:17)
Little children cannot do anything. It helped me realize my complete inadequacy to come before a holy and righteous God. I can do nothing. He must do it for me. He only is adequate.

As I write this I ought also to be writing to our supporters, and I only chuckle to myself as I remember what you say about wanting to please the supporters. A good lesson for anyone to learn is to live for that audience of one … ‘make it our goal to please Him’ as Resham would say. But I can’t just ignore our supporters. What does a good relationship between supporters and missionaries look like?

Looking forward to hearing from you!


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