This month especially we've really been investing in our relationships with other people. Whether it be inviting people to our home for dinner, visiting neighbors who are sick, hosting a play date for other kids or just stopping by to see friends in their homes, we've really been spending a lot of time growing our friendships with others.
This month we were also able to talk face-to-face with 10 of the pastors and/or leaders of the 13 CBS classes. This was a huge prayer and goal of mine! Yaye! Praise God!
For 8 months or so, we've been meeting weekly with a group of young people in Hato Mayor to go through different topics that are important to followers of Christ.
As a side note, I just have to say that this has been an awesome time -- one of the highlights of my week, every week as we dig in together in God's Word, discover new things and challenge one another to truly live as disciples of Jesus Christ.
We will finish this study in the next few months. We are already praying about the next steps. Each of these youth will now be able to disciple another group of people, and Joselo and I will likely start another class here in Santo Domingo.
A Passion-Filled Discussion
In one of our discipleship classes this month we had a lesson that we all got very passionate about on how important it is for us to "be connected to the world."
The author of our discipleship book Vince Vaughan explains that sometimes as Christians we end up creating our own little world within the world, where everything and everyone around us is Christian. (Like our own Christian bubble.)
In this bubble we feel safe and comfortable, and we feel protected from the real world that is filled with criminals and maniacs and all sorts of potentially hurtful and evil things. When we look at the world around us - just by watching the evening news, it's understandable why we might try to escape the danger and potential hurt out there!
Jesus regularly warned his disciples, "In this world, you will have trouble." He also said, "I'm sending you out like sheep among wolves."
We talked about how there are dangers in the world -- real dangers, but in the end we agreed that this is the very world and these are exactly the people that Jesus came to save, and He wants to use us to do it.
Vaughan says "While these (Christian only) influences can certainly be helpful in our own walk with God, the combination of disconnecting relationally from those who are not Christians and focusing only on Christian influences can have a significant impact on our effectiveness in relating to and sharing Jesus with others."
"The danger is that gradually we end up disconnecting ourselves from meaningful relationships with those who are not followers of Christ whether it is in our workplace, our neighborhoods, or even our extended families."
We had a passion-filled discussion as we compared Jesus' example of visiting and eating with tax-collectors, women with questionable backgrounds and other 'sinners' to the Pharisee's reaction and then considered our own lives and the relationships we have with non-Christians.
We all decided that though it's not easy and involves different amounts of risk depending on the context, we want to do a better job of getting out of our "Christian bubble" and start seeing people as Jesus does. We want not to be afraid of people who are different than we are, but take time to listen to their stories, spend time together, pray, love and serve them as Christ would.
And, just maybe some of these relationships will turn into friendships and in a few months or, for some it may take years, we will have an opportunity to stand beside our friends as they choose to put their trust in God and begin a personal relationship with Christ.
This is our prayer. This is how God can use us to bring change into the world, by loving one person at a time.
Jesus prayed, "My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world." (John 17:15-18)