A party becomes a mission field

I dreaded going out to the party last night. Back home I practically never go out at night because I have a job that requires an extremely early start time. In addition to that, I don’t really care for being around large groups of people who are drinking. It’s just not my favorite thing; I much prefer a book, or at the most, hanging out with 1 or 2 people. But not a huge house party, and not with people I don’t know. But while I’m on vacation with my friend, I am hardly in a position to say no to a party.

Not wanting to have a miserable night waiting for it to end, I decided to ask God to give me a purpose for being there, and to minister to whomever he put in my path. Which is silly because he does that all the time. But I just tried to be aware of it, and as always, He came through!

I spent some time talking with 3 different girls during the course of the party. I don’t remember all of their names, but one was from Colombia, one from Argentina, and one who had just moved here from Santa Monica (talking to someone from LA made me feel much more at home!). They all had vastly different stories but all struggled with similar pains: moving away from home, and trying to figure out how to fit in. I didn’t have giant pearls or wisdom or anything, but I ministered, as the varied grace of God permitted (1 Pet 4:10) which means I gave them my whole attention and listened. The one girl from Colombia said she desired to find a church community. I found her a bunch on my iphone, and then because we’re in the South, and she’s Catholic, she asked me my opinion on the general religion in this area.

I would say in general the US is probably more protestant, but in the South, it’s even more so. Then she went on to ask what the difference was. This is the second time I’ve had the opportunity to explain the difference. Not wishing to persuade her for my own agenda by making one sound attractive and the other unattractive, I simply stuck to the basics of salvation, nothing more. It can get very convoluted if you hang on to the details, and this is something I have and still have a hard time with but at the root, it’s like this. Protestants believe you are justified as soon as you believe in Jesus’ grace; Catholics believe you are only justified if, after living a life of faith and works (which of course are not possible on your own), you die in the state of grace.

It’s crazy to think that God had planned it from the beginning, that little ole me, who is so ignorant and so struggling, could fly 2,000 mi away from home just to be a listening ear to someone who wanted to find a church but didn’t quite know where to start. I’m pretty comfortable finding a church wherever I am and just going by myself. It was wonderful to share that confidence with someone else. Praying for many more opportunities like that this week!

Mean people and far away places

I can’t stop thinking about this girl I met last night. First I’ll explain where I am.

Yesterday I traveled halfway across the country to visit my friend in Nashville. I’ve never been to the South before, and so I’m pretty excited to see new places and meet new people, and basically get out of my “bubble”. When my friend brought me home, the first thing I noticed about Nashville was the architecture. Not the big convention center or the skyscrapers, but the regular houses. Her house, like pretty much every house I’ve seen so far, was built in the ’30s and very obviously been added to over the years.

If there’s a difference between anywhere I’ve ever lived and here besides the humidity and outrageous heat, it would be building codes. I’m fascinated by the incredible character and story every house has. This may sound strange to some, but if you have grown up in a cement-and-asphalt paradise, you’ll understand where I’m coming from. It’s just different, and to tell the truth, I think it’s awesome!

I met tons of new interesting people including one girl, who apparently, is the local pariah. We’ll call her Marissa. I was told that no one likes her because she tends to be bossy and condescending, yet she always ends up inviting herself whenever there is a social event.

I consider myself pretty friendly and able to get along with many different types of people. Realizing you can’t always judge a person’s character by opinions of others, I decided to try to talk to her. I ended up failing miserably. Walking up to her, I had in mind to ask her something about school, or where she’s from, but from the first “Hi”, she stared at me stony faced and turned to talk to someone else. Burn!

I was surprised. Even though my friend had told me she wasn’t friendly, I hadn’t expected an outright rejection. Maybe it’s because I’m from California, or she didn’t like the way I looked, or my crashing the party, but whatever it was, she wants nothing to do with me.

Ok fine, shake it off, not everyone is going to like you! And I’m no saint, so my first thought was not to pray for her. But it really bothered me all night. I even dreamt of that disdainful face, judging me from across the room.

Thankfully, there is joy and hope that are alive in Jesus. And that ugliness as pure dross, not part of the glory-self prepared for her. So I did eventually pray for her, something like this:

“Father, I want to lift [name] up to you. I reject the bad thoughts and feelings I hold for her right now. Take them away and put them before the cross. I don’t know her story, but you know everything about her. You can see clearly what is happening, and I pray that she come to know You, that your good work be started, or continued in her, whichever needs to happen. Thank you for the opportunity to give out of the grace I have received, and I pray for your will to be done in her life and mine.”

Praise God for daily proof that the Spirit lives in me! I wouldn’t have even thought to pray for her, if God didn’t keep her on my mind. It’s hard to pray for someone you barely know, and have no desire to know, but what a perfect exercise in humility! Who in your life could use a prayer right now?