As we were loading the truck to travel to our conference location this morning, we took on a few people from the community who needed a ride. I jumped in the back of the truck, sat on the tool box , and leaned against the rear window – ready to go. Everyone else stood outside the truck and looked at each other. It was not so much that they didn’t want to sit with the “white guy” (as I am so frequently referred), but they were not sure what to do. Apparently, as unusual as it is for a white guy to even be there, it’s unheard of that he be riding in the back of the truck with the locals. Isaac took his phone out and snapped a picture of me sitting in the back of the truck. Everyone began to chuckle and jumped in as well.
On the road in, I was like a beacon. People would stop what they were doing as we passed by, and just stare. I would wave and they would happily wave back. I understand what my wife feels like now. Her beauty is so radiant that people stop and stare.
I actually enjoyed the trip. It was slightly misting rain so it created a cool ride. It’s the coolest I’ve felt all week. I was also able to have some good conversations with the others riding along with me.
At the church, we did our now traditional “Ebola hand washing ritual”, began to set up the electronics and generator, and greeted the pastors and church leaders as they arrived. My new friend, Joseph, was there. He’s a blind man to whom Dean asked me to bring a white cane.
Joseph has a great spirit and a great talent for music. He led our group in a song during one of the breaks.
As I began to teach, I quickly learned that I had my work cut out for me. Traditions can be both helpful and harmful. But when it comes to traditions about works and salvation, most teach and respond that salvation is a free gift that includes works. So, teaching God’s free gift can be difficult to those steeped in tradition. Even words they use are so common they don’t realize they are perpetuating “traditional” doctrines that muddy the waters of a clear gospel.
It was a struggle at first, but eventually I could see they were understanding the differences and they began to express to each other how difficult it is to believe this way when they have been taught the other way for so long. I had to move away from the book-work to help guide their understanding but, in the end, they understood how important it is to make the message of God’s free gift of salvation so very clear. I truly enjoyed teaching but, mentally and physically, I’m exhausted.
I thank God that He has opened the minds of these leaders to know how very important it is to make the gospel clear, and free from works. Please pray that tomorrow’s lessons on evangelism methods will help them to share the clear gospel.