It’s 11:00 pm London time. I’ve lost track of what day it is and how any days we’ve been here. It was another packed day, I’m exhausted and I’m still trying to process the events of the day, so, really, there’s no telling what you’re going to get with this summary.
We started the morning with a leisurely breakfast and delightful fellowship and eventually made our way to Asha (which means “hope”, but don’t ask me in what language), a thrift store in the South Hall section of London. Asha is run by World Harvest Mission and they use it as an opportunity to witness to the Muslims, Hindus, and Sikhs. After being treated to samosas (a yummy Indian food) and tea, we met up with some missionaries from World Harvest to help them with a book table they sat up on a street near a bus stop. They give away free books, tracks and DVDs in seven different languages. Not my strong suit, to be sure, but I was happy to help and I learned a lot, especially from Marcus, one of World Harvest’s missionaries. This is his passion and it shows. Seeing him “in action” was an encouragement to me and gave me an example to grow and learn from.
Some people wanted nothing to do with the literature I offered. One young woman asked me what it was about and when I told her Jesus, she looked at me like I was loony, snarled her lip and said, “I’m Muslim.” Others, however, were very receptive, curious, and even grateful.
After the book table, we visited several gurdwaras (Sikh temples) and Hindu temples. I was expecting to go in and sense an oppressive spiritual battle, but that was not at all my experience in any of the sites we visited. I felt nothing. At first I thought I was just tired and winding down, and perhaps detached from the experience for some reason. But a bit into it two words came to mind…dead and futile. It was all a disconnect for me. Whether it was the Hindu temple with the brightly dressed gods surrounded by flashing green neon bubble lights, or the more subdued gurdwara with the attendant constantly dusting their holy book, I saw nothing that offered hope.
Someone commented that it was all human effort…offering fruit and milk to the Hindu gods, touching or kissing the railings or floor to receive power. I’m not sure why they do it...perhaps to appease the gods or coerce them, or perhaps tradition or obligation. It did make me think about Christians too and how sometimes we do the same thing with our faith…we have “devotions” so we can check off the Christian box for the day and go about our business, play “Let’s Make a Deal” with the Lord, or go through the motions because that’s how mom and dad did it. Without a personal relationship with our Savior and Lord, all of our doing is meaningless as well.
As we were winding down our visit to the last site I was struck with what I didn’t see: joy and life. Perhaps that is cultural, I don’t know. As I said, I’m still trying to take it all in and process it. There is no life in deadness, but the Lord can redeem that and I pray I can be a part of that in some way…not only for unbelieving people in faraway lands, but also for people who are believers, but not living as though they have hope in a real and personal, and very much alive Redeemer. I wonder, if we were all to ask the Lord to open our eyes to the pain, suffering, hurt, and hopeless around us…wherever we may be…and to give us His heart of love and compassion, what a difference His Church could make. How many lives would be changed and how many more would be fully alive… including our own?
Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your path.