* Names changed for security purposes.
To believe in God is to embrace something that will radically change our lives. We all know this. Those who have truly embraced the call to follow Christ know how drastically it can transform a life. Change isn’t comfortable. To many people here, to embrace that kind of change… it’s crazy.
“Are you crazy?!”
That was the reaction of *Flair’s mother when she asked, “What would you think if I became a Christian?”
Her mother then went on talking about how the government is against Christians and that it’s not safe. It’s not exactly the most comfortable way to live, being a Christian local in communist China.
The next day, Flair’s mother pointed towards papers sitting on top of their table. Flair went to see what they were. They were application forms for the youth who want to join the Communist Party. Flair stood her ground and told her mother that she wasn’t going to join the party, but she really didn’t have the guts to tell her mother that she recently accepted Christ as her Lord and Savior.
Flair told me about this several months later, just before the summer of this year. She was about to go back to her hometown, and this time, she was determined to let her mother know that she was now a Christian.
I sat there, listening to Flair stress out over how she was going to tell her family. As someone who grew up in a family of pastors and missionaries, I was aching to relate to what she was going through. I had no advice to give her. I just listened as she blurted out, “I actually believe that Someone created the universe! My sister is going to think I’m crazy.”
I laughed at the way she said it. Flair has always been quite the character, so blunt and open and so full of desire to serve and love God.
I held her hand, we talked. I encouraged her. We prayed. And she left. She’s returning from her hometown soon, and I find myself anticipating an update of what happened.
The questions are running through my mind: “Did you tell them? How did it go? Do they think you’re crazy?”
“Baliw.” It was *Ron’s favorite word to tell me ever since he learned the Filipino word for crazy. Baliw. He said it to me again the night he got back from his part-time teaching job this summer.
He and *Mandy came over to The Bridge outreach center to talk about how their summer went. They had totally different experiences. Ron worked a teaching job for the entire duration of the summer. He was saving up for his dream to travel to other countries—specifically Thailand and the Philippines. By the end of the summer though, his phone got stolen. Thus, all his savings went to the purchase of a new phone.
Mandy had a completely different experiences. She got fired from the teaching job she and Ron applied for within four days of being there. She then ended up in a factory job that she said she’d never want to do again. She quit that one. Finally, she met up with some friends to look for another job to no avail until she ran out of money, had to swallow her pride and ask her mom for cash to get back to their hometown.
“She didn’t have a productive summer,” Ron teased.
“Life is hard,” they said. “It’s not easy to earn money.”
Both spent their summer working, only to both come out of it empty-handed.
“How about you?” they asked me, wondering what I did all summer.
I laughed and joked at them. “I love my life. God has really been blessing me.”
To that, Ron grinned, already used to my references toward God and how awesome He is. He then said, “Baliw.”
This kind of talk caused another split in the Jewish ranks. A lot of them were saying, “He’s crazy, a maniac—out of his head completely. Why bother listening to him?” But others weren’t so sure: “These aren’t the words of a crazy man. Can a ‘maniac’ open blind eyes?” – John 10:19-21
“It’s not easy to believe in God,” *Zoe said. “When my family found out that you were coming here and that you were Christians, they told me to stay away from you. I had to explain a lot why I like hanging out with you guys.”
Zoe isn’t a Christian… yet. But she loves spending time with Christians. She says that she feels peace when hanging around us. But she’s having trouble believing that there is a God, much more believing that Jesus died for her sin two thousand years ago.
It doesn’t help that her family seems to think that Christians are a special brand of freak.
Thus, when we visited her touristy and beautiful hometown, we made it a point to visit her family. It was a pleasant night, which ended with us visiting her bed-ridden grandmother. They allowed us to pray for her. To pray for healing.
Then we left, with smiles and waves, and an invite from her parents to visit them whenever we happen to be in hometown next. Maybe they realized that we’re not as crazy as they thought we were.
These are only a few stories of what the Chinese mission field is like.
To believe in God is to embrace something that will radically change our lives. We all know this. Those who have truly embraced the call to follow Christ know how drastically it can transform a life.
Change isn’t comfortable. To many people here, to embrace that kind of change… It’s crazy.
But that’s our message. We talk of grace abundant and love unfailing. We talk of unyielding faith and extravagant mercy. We talk of surrender to a higher power. We talk of a Perfect Father—invisible to the naked eye—but fully experienced by surrendered hearts. We talk of life lived and love given that sounds crazy to the natural mind.
So yeah… there have been times when I have approached the throne of grace with a simple, kind of silly, but utterly sincere prayer: “Lord, help us embrace the crazy.”
Crazy surrender. Crazy love. Crazy Christians.