“I want to eat some real Mexican food”. Those were my words just recently. My desire was fulfilled today without leaving the country. I did not even leave the neighborhood where I was working at the time.
One of the Malians who travels with us out to the bush (formerly our driver) does not speak much English. He didn’t speak any when we first met him. But he understands a lot more than he wants us to think. I ate in a restaurant today that reminded me of him. Our waitress does not speak English, MUCH. She tried to say she didn’t understand English, but when one in our group said, “What is your name?” she answered, and smiled.
The food was outstanding. It was not the bland tasteless variety at most of the “Tex-Mex” places we normally go. They didn’t bring out a basket of chips and salsa to fill us up so we thought we had a lot of food. We ordered soft tacos and a tamale. It was extremely tasty and very, very good. I noticed the majority of people eating there were Hispanic workers that had come there for lunch. There was one other table with caucasians.
Outside the restaurant were ethnic shops and stores. It was like a little international bazaar. God has truly brought the world to our neighborhoods. Regardless of your political leanings, the reality exists that the world is here. Jesus said, “…and you will be witnesses to me in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” However you may choose to define those locations, it comes down to people similar to us and near us, people similar to us and not as near, people not similar to us but near, and people neither near nor similar. It is critical also that we recognize that Jesus used the conjunction “and” not “or”. We have a responsibility to share the Gospel with all of the people near and far.
As I told someone about my experience, they said, “I don’t like to go to that road. It doesn’t look safe.” Maybe you have those thoughts. Is it because it is just different. Sometimes we need to remember that different is neither good nor bad, it is just …. well, different.
How is your church doing with obeying the Great Commission? Are you reaching the people that are similar to you and close by? What about those similar to you but not so close? How are you doing with the people that are just absolutely different? Are you fearful of what you do not know or understand?
Imagine what it is like to reach someone from a culture on the other side of our globe and from a place that we do not have free access to enter? Imagine reaching an insider to that culture with the Gospel and equipping them to go to their home. Do you suppose maybe our Sovereign God had more in mind for the variety of ethnic groups in our community than just adding population?
Whoever calls on the name of the Lord. WHOEVER!!! But how will they call on someone that they do not know exists? How can they know and understand if someone does not share with them in a language that they understand? Oh, in that same neighborhood, I went into a grocery store of Hispanic ownership. I tried to ask some questions, and no one spoke or understood any English. Inside the city limits of the capital city of our state. I do not point that out for you to voice your prejudice about why they should learn your language. I mention it to indicate we have to find ways to communicate the Gospel in every heart language. We will stand before our creator and account for our stewardship of the Gospel.