Per Fidem Intrepidus means "Fearless Through Faith". My courage isn't my own, it comes from the Holy Spirit, it's my faith in God and my personal savior Christ Jesus that calms my fears and allows me to move forward in this fallen world. Personally I'm afraid of a lot of stuff, but having the faith that Jesus adopted me as his little, sin filled, brother keeps me going.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Starting From Scratch

Interesting things happen when I have security detail at the First Berean Congregational Church. Occasionally half way through the service someone strolls into the vestibule of our church with a question on their mind. Quite often they're looking for the First Berean Lutheran Church which is just up the road from us (turn right on 31st then left on to Elbert, you can't miss it)

Last year a young couple came in a bit late but excited to join us, they drove quite a ways just to be there. They even mentioned pre-marriage counseling.  I ushered them into the sanctuary just as Pastor Paratus started his sermon. About 15 minutes later they came out with a puzzled look on their face. I immediately knew the answer to the question that was on their hearts: just up the road a bit, turn right on 31st then left on to Elbert, you can't miss it.

One time a young woman came in with a 5 year old girl who was wearing mismatched shoes and the woman told me her story: husband, money, sister-in-law, rent, brother, car, misunderstanding, shouting, anger... I doubt I will ever remember more details than that, but in the end she was looking for a sympathetic ear and a toothbrush for her child. The First Berean Congregational Church was able to supply her with both.

This weekend I had security again and Pastor Paratus and the Holy Spirit were on, he started with a discussion of the persecuted Church, and then picked up where he left off last week in Revelations 1. Just as he started to talk about the Open Doors webcast on the persecuted church (a recording of that webcast can be seen here) a couple clearly dressed for Church entered. I assumed that they were father and daughter, but they could have been uncle and niece or maybe even grandparent grandchild, he was clearly over 40 and she was barely pushing 16.

Their pseudonyms are Miguel and Margaret, Miguel could not speak English so I suppose Margaret was his translator, and he wanted to speak to Pastor Paratus. I told Margaret that Pastor Paratus was a little busy, they could see him through the windows between the sanctuary and the foyer and hear him over the speakers, so she said they'd wait. Miguel wanted to read what pastor was preaching from, and luckily (or was it providence?) I brought my tablet rather than a print bible so I was able to hand Miguel a copy of the Nueva Versión Internacional and he could read along.

I told Margaret that it might be a while because there would be communion after the sermon and they were welcome to partake with us and she gave me a blank look - Communion? We spoke for a bit and it soon became apparent to me that this girl is a blank slate. She knew a little bit about the Catholic church and when it was mentioned she made a face (same face I tend to make when the RCC is mentioned, she just does it without whiskers) While Pastor Paratus passionately plead the plight of persecuted Christians (and really, the alliteration wasn't intended, but it did work nicely) I realized that everything I said may very well be what this young girl bases her spiritual beliefs on from that moment forward.

Where does one person start in that situation?  To compound matters she spoke English but it was clearly not her primary language, and my upbringing on the Canadian border taught me pidgin en Français, not pidgin Español so whatever I said I would have to choose my words carefully to avoid confusion on her part. My first thought was I'm not a pastor, I'm a blogger - give me a laptop and a few quality hours with SeekFind or ChristianGo and I'll be good to go. But I didn't have a few hours and Miguel was intently studying Apocalipsis 1 on my tablet so computer assisted preaching was completely out of the question.

I was really in a quandary over what to say to this child, so we opened a bible and turned to Revelation 1 and the first thing she asked was "Why are all those words in red?" and I said "They're in red so you know that's a direct quote from Jesus." She gave me a blank look and I suddenly realized she truly was a blank slate. Everyone know something about God and Jesus, right? I've never met someone who is starting completely from scratch. And all that came to mind was a song

I felt that's what I needed to do - just tell her about Jesus. No explanation of communion, persecution, red letters, the difference between a congregational church and the RCC, nor the difference between a pastor and a priest. Just Jesus.

Slowly I explained to Margaret that God made us and we rebelled against Him, but He still loved us so much that He sent His son Jesus to us to lead the way back to Him. Jesus went around Israel teaching, preaching, and healing and telling us about God's kingdom. There were prophesies from hundreds of years before that foretold Jesus and He fulfilled all of those prophesies, but we rebelled again and executed Him. He told us that would happen, and three days later He rose from the dead like He also said would happen. Then He taught His Apostles about His love and forgiveness and rose into heaven and now we are waiting for Him to return.

That pretty much took up all the time we had as Miguel decided to leave and contact Pastor Paratus later. I have no illusions that I set Margaret on the path to salvation, but I pray that I helped ignite a little spark that the Holy Spirit can fan into a raging inferno. Yet questions still remain rattling around in my head, did I do it right? is that where you start when dealing with a blank slate? is there something I could have said better? did I get through to her? Will she come back to learn more? Is this the chink that the Holy Spirit needs to break through?

And - how often do Pastors ponder these questions? My guess is that the answer is "every day"

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