By Jean Johnson
What happens when we store up rich spiritual food and keep it all to ourselves? How does God move us out of our comfort zones?
God brought the S.E Asian refugees into my high school and into my life. I practically became their solo welcoming committee through friendship and guidance as they navigated their new culture.
Until . . . My friends started to call me the ‘Asian lover.’
Suddenly, I felt overwhelmed due to peer pressure and entering into cultural experiences so vastly different from my own. I lost the energy and heart it required to build cross-cultural friendships, thus I gradually disconnected from my Cambodian, Hmong, and Vietnamese friends.
Upon graduating from high school, I went to a Bible college. I planned to take classes in social sciences and move on to another college in the future. As you can imagine, I received a lot of instruction in the Bible and spiritual matters. So much so that one day it dawned on me that I was becoming spiritually obese. Meaning, I received so much biblical and spiritual training, but did little to pass it on to others. That which goes in and doesn’t go out has a way of making us obese. So I prayed. Dear, Lord how can I serve you? Please reveal it to me.
The very next day a classmate approached me with an offer. “Jean, how would you like to help us in a youth ministry?” I asked, “What might that be?” He responded, “Working with a youth group made up of Cambodian, Hmong, and Vietnamese.” Instantly, I remembered the prayer I prayed the night before. It was as if God was asking me, Are you mature enough now to continue to join me in the Great Commission? It took me all of about two seconds to say YES.
This story reminds me of Peter. Peter didn’t follow through with his cross-cultural calling either. That is until God gave him a menu that included dishes made with ingredients a Jewish man would never eat. Peter refused to order off God’s menu, even after God asked him to eat three times. Finally God said to Peter, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.” While God was giving Peter an object lesson, there was a knock on the door and the Spirit told him to go with the men who were sent by a Roman Centurion. Peter was finally getting out of his comfort zone to share the gospel.
Jesus said go and make disciples. And if we don’t go voluntarily, He will find ways to remind us, nudge us, and even discipline us until we obey.
He never meant for us to receive abundantly from Him and keep it to ourselves. He has God-wired us to receive and then go and make disciples of others. All because He loves everyone and wants everyone to have a fair chance to reconnect to their Creator through His Son.
I thank God that He didn’t give up on Peter. And I thank God he didn’t give up on me.
If you feel spiritually obese, consider praying this prayer:
Dear Lord, how can I serve you? Please reveal it to me.
This blog is part two of a series called Musings About my Life on Mission. I went from being a sheltered Minnesota gal to a cross-cultural disciple-maker in a fairly rough place — Cambodia. I have learned a lot since then and I would like to share it with you in case you go from your hometown to a place far away.