The Chaotic World of Cross-Cultural Ministry
Every Monday night, we head on over to Lalli and Mândra’s house to bring church to a group of Gypsies who wouldn’t get it any other way. Usually, things start out kinda’ chaotic, but God brings it all around in the end and does something cool, and we all leave really encouraged.
One week, when we showed up, no one was there but one older woman hanging up laundry on a clothes line. But soon we gathered others and before long we had a good-sized group assembled, a mixture of a few regulars and a few new people. By the end, we’d had a great time teaching the Bible, praying, and worshiping together.
This past week, in the middle of my teaching, the lights started going out. Well, light. All we had was a bare bulb hanging from the ceiling. For about thirty minutes, the pattern went like this: the lights would flicker off and on then go out completely, everyone would start shouting, a few people would run out of the room, and the younger ones would reach for cell phones, then suddenly the lights would come back on again for a few minutes. It turns out they share electricity with their neighbors, and between the two of them, they were just drawing too much power through the line. It was chaotic and a little crazed, but by the end of it, I challenged everyone who knew Jesus to get out there and do something for Him. God really convicted four people listening, and they asked us to pray that they would be filled with the boldness of God to be His witnesses on the streets of Bucharest this week. Awesome!
A few weeks ago, we walked into Lalli and Mândra’s home only to be blasted by a cloud of cigarette smoke. The air was thick and hazy with fumes. We looked around and there was Lalli, and there was his son Mihai, but we didn’t recognize anyone else. None of the regulars were there, and as we talked with the newcomers, we started to get the impression they were probably not Christians yet. It’s hard to tell sometimes, between relying on translators and the Gypsy culture that’s steeped in religious ideas about Jesus, but we figured we should probably start the night off by going through what the Gospel really is.
So Jason from Canada went through the Gospel very clearly and simply, and an old roofer who was visiting from Târgu Mureş asked us to pray for him. He said he needed more faith, more work, more food, a better house, more peace, and a stronger family. So we prayed.
Afterward, still nobody else had shown up, and by this time Lalli had left, so there were no regulars. Awkward indeed. So we just talked with people and waited for others to show up. Suddenly, out of nowhere, the roofer told us he felt the Holy Spirit’s presence strongly when we prayed with him asked us if we knew about baptism in the Holy Spirit and could pray with him. This time, as we prayed, nothing amazing seemed to happen, but the room just “felt” full of God, and it just “felt” like this old roofer was soaking up all of God’s Spirit he could get. Ben’s hand got unnaturally hot, which was pretty cool. Sometimes that can be a good sign the Holy Spirit is doing something, and sometimes it just means you should take your hand off the stove. Since there were no stoves nearby, we assumed it was the Holy Spirit.
God spoke to my heart Acts 1:8 – “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses.” I shared this verse with the old roofer and encouraged him that he had the power of God and should be a witness for Jesus. He smiled ear-to-ear and kept asking us, “What did you feel when you were praying? Could you tell something changed? Why was your hand so hot?”
Later that same evening, Koko, a young guy who was also a newcomer that night, prayed to turn away from sin and trust in Jesus for forgiveness. Shortly thereafter, the “regulars” showed up and we just kept having a good time.
Welcome to the chaotic world of cross-cultural ministry. 🙂 Check the left side of your brain at the door and continue down the hall.