We were walking down the dirt road. A kid in a collar and tie always confuses my perception of their age. So the man that i thought was 20 was actually still in high school. He would act as my translator. Unknown to me, in Uganda, a greeting between strangers can last for ten minutes. The first person asks where the other is from or where they have come from today. The are repeated by the second person. These types of questions go back and forth until both are satisfied with the information shared and they get on with the purpose of the meeting. Instead of this my conversation would begin – “Hi, have you ever heard of Jesus?” My 14 year old translator would politely avoid telling me that that was a retarded way to begin a conversation and i assume would translate it word for word.
Some ladies would know who Jesus was, and would begin amazing conversations about their lives with church and healings. Some ladies would say no and would want to know who Jesus was, beginning an equally as amazing conversation. We continued up the road and found ourselves wandering towards three older men sitting on blankets. I started with my usual blunt and culturally insensitive conversation, and straight off the bat my mini translating friend said – “these men are muslims”. My heart jumped. I was instantly excited because up until that point we had only met female muslims who were converted through marriage, and seemed to know very little of the ins and outs of Islam and Jesus. So i cautiously told the men – “I’m a christian who is curious about your faith, do you mind if i ask you some questions.” The man who became the spokesperson of the group said yes, with the funniest smile on his face. He made me feel instantly like i was his nephew. It was awesome. So i began excitedly throwing him questions through young mate.
We covered how Christ is just a prophet, a good prophet, but as a good prophet he claimed to be the son of God so he’s either more then a prophet or a liar. The man conceded. Then i asked about a few more things but before he translated them, my translator then questioned me about them to clarify what i actually meant. It dawned on me for the first time in my life how important the flesh and blood of christ is. I began processing out loud with this complete stranger with a similar but different faith, through a 14 year old complete stranger who by that point still hadn’t told me his name. My questions revolved around my own experience with looking at God through the old testament and being uncomfortable with his violence. How my human experience translated all of that a certain way, but when we have christ who took on the same body we live in – it translates amazingly well.
The man began nodding. He was processing the same thing as me. I couldn’t tell if he had thought it before but the smile returned. That cheeky, i know where you are going with this smile. I began smiling myself. So i asked – “Have you ever thought of following christ?” He said yes. But then he began to describe something that i have been dreaming of ever since.
He began to report on the community he lived in, which also explained a lot of the stories we heard from the ladies we had met. The islamic community he lived in was so communal that they made belief decisions as a community. It seemed like they had no individual faith, no individual commitment, but they we committed communally, they believed communally, led by a couple of the men in the group. When women married into it, they converted from christianity. As a community they looked after each other very well – an echo of a socialist utopia but with allah at its head?
So his story culminated with the idea that he understood what i was saying. But he preferred to live within the bounds of his united community then to leave it, rocking the boat and, in a way, destroying his way of life.
I thanked him for his time and walked on, my whole world view rocked a little bit.
We walked further on to engage a woman in conversation who was covered in children. We had seen at least 5 people become christians that day, it was hot, i was tired and it had become a little formulaic. We spoke of Christ and our need of his sacrifice. She decided to become christian. So against my better judgement i lead her through the “sinners prayer”. Looking back on it I cringe. I was bored of a simple prayer, i was bored of the heat and the dust and my inability to communicate directly. Even after praying for amazingly beautiful people, seeing people effected by the good news, i was so arrogant that i couldn’t get excited by this womans life being changed. The tone of my voice was bored. and as soon as we finished we walked off.
I deserve death for that moment.
There are angels in heaven rejoicing when ever a lost one is found. Angels. Who have seen billions of lost ones found. I had seen only 5 that day and i was bored?? What a loser.
I feel like I need to get better at celebrating with the angels. Celebrating amazing victory with God. I should have hugged or danced or at least stayed there and shared more stories. At my baptism we had a party afterwards.
I need to learn how to party.