I’ve been spending far more time writing in my pen-and-paper journal than blogging of late and for various reasons. I’ve also been reading through years of past journals. I generally only write in my paper journals when things aren’t going all that well, like now, so when I read 20 odd years of journal entries I tend to see one screwed-up person. Well, not all that screwed-up in comparison to many other people, but messed-up nevertheless. I learn a great deal through journaling, and even more so when I go back and read from my past.
When I went to Germany to spend a year doing campus ministry work in Europe, I hoped to keep a consistent journal just to keep track of everything that happened. I did for a couple months, but then slacked off, as I always do. Here is an entry that I wrote during a short visit to a student ministry in Montpelier, in the south-west of France on the Mediterranean Sea:
2-26-1990, Montpelier, France:
So far, this has been interesting. I keep getting German and French all mixed up. Its been fun meeting all the different people – French, German, English, Cameroonian, South African, Kenyan, American, and others. Lots of languages. Lots of colors. This has been really neat, although there have been interesting times of communication, or attempts at communication. Last night, we all (12-15 of us) went to Harriet’s place, which was quite small. At first, I really didn’t feel much like going, but after I was there for a while my attitude changed quite a bit.
We began worshiping and I thought we should forget it because we couldn’t get it together. Finally, we were able to sing a few songs all together – French, German, American and British English, and other languages. We then began to pray.
As I thought about what was happening I was quite moved, but even more so now. I am continually so amazed at how color, national origins, culture, or language do not interfere with our brother/sisterhood, with our communion in Jesus Christ. We all sang and we all prayed, often not understanding each other, but all knowing that the One we serve binds us together. Knowing that the prayers we pray, not known by us all, come from hearts that are in unity of purpose and mind with our own. Thanking God together for our wonderful salvation, for bringing us all together, for the universities we serve and attend. It really was incredible. We serve a God that knows no boundaries, who loves and cares for us all the same, who has called us to another Kingdom to be citizens of another country, and to be ambassadors to this world.
If this is being a “World Christian,” there is certainly no better way to experience it and learn how to be one. Certainly, staying in American one can be a world-Christian, but there is a difference. One cannot know how it “feels” until one is in another part of the world. I consider myself so privileged to be able to not just understand what it is to be a world-Christian, but to learn how to actually be one in context.
There you go. Am I a “World Christian?” It depends on how I want to define that. I have changed so much over the past five years and I realize that what I wrote above I still believe, but I also know that in many parts of the world the way the Christians live out their faith is alien to me. There is one baptism, one Lord, one God of all who does consider us all the same, knows no boundaries, and longs for us to be in unity. Yet, the way we humans choose to live out the faith falls far short when we consider the two great commands of Jesus. God is one, yet we are so not one, except through the mystical Body of Christ in which God determines membership and not us, thankfully.