I get that question often when I send out letters after overseas trips. People who have been worshipping spirits or who grew up in cultures with ideologies and theologies very different from Christianity hear a couple stories and their families accept Christ, get into small churches, and start telling other people new things about the Jesus they are learning about. Yes, it is normal.
After seeing this repeated over and over and over in as diverse settings, backgrounds, and people groups as we have, I know the stories we share about what happens in other countries happen because of the people who are doing things—their willingness to speak, go, do, try. Storying methods are simply a communication style they are using. Way more important is the believers’ stepping into other peoples’ searching.
When believers go into their villages, when a bushman talks to his Muslim neighbor, when Buddhists stay up late into the night talking, or when we talk to locals here in our college town coffeeshop—when space is created for conversations—we are talking to people who have unmet longings. We are not trying to “convert” anybody. We are simply telling a story that helps make sense of the longings that universally exist in people—Love. Safety. Acceptance. Hope. Cleanness. Wholeness. Togetherness. Purpose…the list can go on for pages—and giving them a different and true direction to search in.
People respond to those kinds of conversations.
Last week a group of people from a small church in Africa went to a nearby village and shared stories. A few people stayed for hours talking. Nothing preachy, just conversations about where life’s longings and Jesus come together. “Many accepted the messages and gave their lives to Christ.” When searching recognizes truth, there is usually a response.
Somewhere over the Atlantic last month, I scribbled on a Coke-stained napkin “What does it mean to join God in what he is doing?”
Look for where God is working.
See what God is doing.
Listen to who God is already talking to.
Don’t mess it up!