I went out to dinner with Las Chicas the other day. These four girls left South America and Europe to come to Small Town, USA for a year to teach Spanish and French. They all speak English very well, but it is their second language. They are also new to the United States and not well-acquainted with the area, so some of my friends and I offered to go out to dinner with them. I was their chauffeur.
When I lived in Costa Rica, I remembered always being so annoyed with the Spanish radio. I didn't understand a word of it; it was just noise making it harder to hear. I didn't want Las Chicas to have the same problem in my car. I regretted leaving my Juanes CD at home and put in my Spanish worship CD instead.
While we were driving and talking, Las Chicas asked me all sort of questions. Is what I'm wearing ok for where we’re going? What kind of rag do I need to buy to use with my mop? I'm getting five hours of sleep a night; why am I so tired? Do they sell textbooks at Wal-mart? What do you call the little white thing you use to clean your ear? Do I have to be a United States citizen to get a driver's license here?
In a break between conversations, the music was heard through the silence.
Cynthia: Is this a Christian CD?
Katie: It is.
Cynthia: Oh. I am a Christian in Argentina.
Katie: You can be a Christian in the United States, too.
I was glad she laughed because it came out so fast that I couldn't stop myself. I didn't want her to think I was mocking her, but they all enjoyed it. This added a whole new dimension to the questions they asked me.
What is the name of the guy who, you know, how do you say? And you know the thing that he does, what is that part called? What is the difference between Baptist and Methodist? Most of the people here are Baptist, yes?
Let me be transparent for just a second. I can write, blog, and read about God all day without a problem. To talk about Him is more of a challenge. Even sometimes among my Christian friends I feel silly for saying, "God showed me this today." I rarely tell people I'll pray for them (but if I say it, I try to really do it). When Christ came up with Las Chicas, I knew I had a witnessing opportunity. I also knew my tendency to be turned down when I offer a ride to church.
That's why I was shocked when they accepted the invitation! Even after I told them we'd have to leave at 8:30am. Las Chicas began to talk about their home churches. One did mission work every Saturday where she worked in local neighborhoods helping people. Another's pastor and his wife sent her with all sorts of photos and wanted her return with photos of American churches. It was humbling to hear about what God is doing in other countries.
On Sunday morning, they were ready early. One of them even made a joke about it. I have since realized why. This was their first opportunity to hear God's Word proclaimed since they've been in our country.
Shame on you, America. We're sending mission teams all over the world to spread the gospel. Yes, I went to Guatemala last year for that very purpose. But do you want to know what I found? Jesus is already there. He's in Guatemala. He's in Argentina. Yes, going and showing His love is important, but we also need to realize there are people in this country yearning to hear His name and they are not being filled. These girls are living on a Christian campus and no one had invited them to church. No one has stopped to ask if they need prayer. No one.
Shame on me. The thought never even crossed my mind until they said they had been looking for a church to attend. This is my twelfth year of Spanish, and I don’t even know the word for “prayer.” I feel ashamed to admit that, but it’s the truth.
When I took three of Las Chicas to church with me, I wondered how much they were getting out of the service. The sermon was less than engaging, the power-points with lyrics weren’t working, and the southern drawl was more pronounced than normal. Afterwards, Cynthia waved her notes in front of me.
“This is exactly what I needed! Thank you!”
Don’t thank me. Thank God. He coordinated it all.
If you could do me a favor, pray for these four girls and they are in a foreign country teaching their native languages. Pray that they can see God's love shown through those of us they encounter here. And, if you don't mind, pray that the Lord gives me the desire to speak boldly about Him. How can I pray for you?