Dear Filipino Church -
With your sweltering hot chapels and their futile electric fans hoping to provide some reprieve, and your benches or floors or plastic chairs jam-packed with vibrant souls.
You kept thanking us when we visited. For partnering with you through Compassion International to release children in your community from poverty in Jesus' name.
But thank you.
Because it's just grace that God lets us partner in your work of freeing children from poverty.
And truth is, through this partnership - you've helped free us from our own poverty.
I know it might be hard to understand - this world is just terribly, horribly hard to understand sometimes - but in our First World, we are impoverished in terrible ways.
What makes it worse is that this First World poverty is masked behind "good" things - wealth, comfort, luxury, success.
You see - that joy, that authenticity, that hope that you worship with is something that is few and far between here in the First World. You sing like you actually mean the words on your lips.
So your radical joy, your earnest authenticity, your absolute, world-shaking hope - that was the most beautiful thing to me.
In you, I saw an absolute dependency on God and one another as the Body of Christ, a life-giving, what-can-God-do-through-me culture, a joyful, hopeful worship.
Is everything good in your life? Absolutely not. Far, far, far from.
But He is good and that is enough for you.
In the face of heart-breaking brokenness, your answer always and simply is Jesus.
The beauty of that is what I thank you for.
It's saved me from a poverty so deeply rooted in the First World culture, that escape is slim and falling back into it is so. very. terrifyingly. easy.
So dear Filipino Church, you are beautiful.
You were a taste of heaven on earth and my response to all your Thank-Yous is Thank YOU.
And I wish my letter could end there. Yet there's a whole other side to you that I haven't addressed yet, Filipino Church.
Dear Filipino Church -
With your suffocating air conditioners aiming to recreate the Canadian winter and your thousands of cushy seats or pews.
Worshipping with you was one of the hardest things I had to do throughout my 3 weeks in the Philippines.
The last thing I needed after worshipping with your country's poorest churches was to run into you. Yet I'm oddly glad I did.
As heart-wrenching as it was, every girl needs a hard look in the mirror sometimes.
And as I sang with you with tears threatening their way down my cheeks at the injustice of this all, my heart broke for you and it broke for me and it broke for the whole First World Church, and Filipino Church, tell me - why are we so easily satisfied?
Why do you and I settle for flashy lights and checklist faith when joy - heaven on earth - is found just outside our doors amongst the poor?
Tell me why we're ok with this cruise control faith. Tell me why we spend millions of dollars on studies and buildings and excursions and workshops and all of it in attempt to get closer to God when He said it right there in Isaiah 58, to the Israelites -
Yes. You seem eager to find Me but here is where you'll find me: Amongst the hungry. The down-and-out. The poor. The weary.
If you have the choice between glitz and show for God or simply spending yourself on behalf of the hungry - choose the latter.
And yet I understand, Filipino Church. I do. I get it.
It's easier. Checklist faith is far easier. Sunday service - check. Morning devo - check. Midweek Bible Study - check. Bedtime prayers - check. Tithe - check. Repeat.
When you haven't seen the other side of yourself, Filipino Church, you might be tempted to believe the enemy's lie that this. is. all.
And I'm here to tell you that this is not all. I've been to the other side, and I'm running back to proclaim it -
There's more! There is. I know you can't see it yet but just
I dare you to do this. It will be bold. It will be scary and terrifying and somedays you won't want this. It will require a lot of faith. But it will be worth it.
Because you know what,
Let's be done with settling for a cruise control faith. Let's be done with being ok with a flashy lights, checklist faith.
And let's take this bold, Isaiah 58 style faith head-on.
Dear Fellow First World Christian via A Mom on a Mission [My Mama! :)]
A Letter to the North American Chruch: Because It Is Time via A Holy Experience