Skip to main content

I visited a Mosque. And went to church.

Today, our local International Rescue Committee organization hosted a solidarity event at the Islamic Society of Wichita while their members were gathering for Friday prayers.  We stood outside, held signs, and let them know that we are with them.  That we are for them.

But before the event I met my new friend, Ratna, for a tour and some lunch in the well-worn gym.  I was running a little early so I sat by myself on the concrete fountain in front of the building.
It was a beautiful day.  The sun was warming me.  I could smell the food cooking.  A suburban in the parking lot said, "Girl Scout Cookies For Sale!" written in white shoe polish on the dark windows.

Pretty soon, Ratna pulled up in her minivan, tagged along behind by her 5-year-old son with his bright blue iPad and headphones.  He was watching a Pokemon cartoon and was humming along to the songs.  Skipping as he went.  Ratna smiled, hugged me, and led me inside for a tour of their worship space.

It was a beautiful building.  Everyone that we passed smiled and said hello.  The people were on their way to prayers- women in one room, men in another.  Ratna explained to me that it is not at all a matter of not valuing women, but rather, that they separate so that they might fully focus on prayer and devotion to God.

Well, I get that.  Being in church ministry for 12 years, I have had enough conversations with people that are only attending so that they might hook up with the opposite sex.

We then went into the gymnasium for lunch.  The aroma was incredible.  Falafel, gyros, and biryani were made by hand in the small kitchen.  A-Maz-Ing.  Also in the gymnasium was the Girl Scout Cookie mom.  She was helping her daughter reach her goal of selling 1,000 boxes so that she could win a trip to Great Wolf Lodge.  Of course, I bought Thin Mints.  I asked her if she was close to her 1,000th sale.  She said "almost" and her mom giggled-- "We're at about 150."

Ratna and I discussed her upbringing in Indonesia and a little bit about our personal faiths but mostly the conversation centered around the chaos swirling around our country right now and the anxiety that she feels she herself, her family, and her community.  Hyper-vigilant, she said.

My heart felt heavy.  I have only known her a short time but her heart is gold.  She is so funny and open and kind.  I am so glad that I have had the blessing of knowing her and her family.  And today was a new kind of blessing.  I was there for a solidarity event- to support her community.  But every time that I open myself to this kind of experience, I am blessed more than I can even describe here.

I met another man at the event- a minister.  He was standing on the sidewalk with a sign that said, "No matter where you are from, we're glad you're our neighbor" in three different languages.  He smiled and said, "Jesus told us to love our neighbor as ourselves.  Because our neighbor IS us.  What happens to our neighbor, happens to us."

My heart is full. 
I worshiped my God with biryani and new friends.
I saw a small glimpse of the vastness of God.  In the smiles, the handshakes, the friendly waves.
I drove away from that place with the windows rolled down.
With a song on my lips.

This was church.


Popular posts from this blog

To those who said it wasn't abuse

It wasn't abuse, you said.
He was out of his head
crying and yelling and throwing
himself down kicking
tantrums over little things like
the tightness of a shoe
the color of a plastic cup he wanted
red we gave him blue.
The VHS player wouldn't play,
the certain condition of a day
it was raining or sunny or dry
you said you were just parenting him
getting him in line to mind
building character, you said.

It wasn't abuse, they said.
Just parenting.  A child of unruly sorts
he doesn't look us in the eye he's
disrespectful.  Doesn't tuck in his shirts
unkempt.  Doesn't sit still during prayer
sinful and ungodly a preacher's kid
you know how they are well,
not my kid.

So he would be taught respect
and godliness through discipline
a scriptural concept he would
Honor His Father he would
want to, want to, obey.
and his mother would
Honor His Father by shutting up
and covering up the little
legs slashed and bloodied
welts and bruises and broken
kitchen utensils …

What it means when a narcissistic pastor says, "I love the church"

I ran across this article while going through a rough place in my life.  It had profound meaning for me in dealing with some of the individuals in my life that have narcissistic traits. The article highlights the fact that when a narcissist says, “I love you,” he really means that he loves the way that you (fill in the blank): take care of his needs, focus your energy on him, submit, etc. Individuals that have been in relationships with narcissists often admit to feeling crazy, not recognizing the abuse while it was occurring, and to keeping secrets to cover for his abuse, infidelity, etc.  I wonder if this is what many people are recognizing in the #exevangelical movement.  Because as I was going through this article again, I began to realize that many of the narcissistic traits could be applied to the many pastors and men in church leadership that I have known through the years. Being in church ministry for twelve years, I became proficient at silence and lies to cover the behavior…

To "speak the truth in love" does not mean "reprimand"

"...speaking the truth in love..." Ephesians 4:15
Notice the "dot, dot, dot," before and after that phrase?  But how many times have you heard it as a full sentence?  Speak the Truth in love.  As a full sentence, it loses all context.  And how often is this phrase used as an excuse to reprimand another "in love" and tell them about their multitude of sins?
The New Living Translation has a completely different take on this phrase.  It states, "we will hold to the truth in love."  Now, that changes it a bit, doesn't it?  That makes the action about me and not about me acting on another.  
In context, Ephesians 4 is talking about the Body of Christ and how we must work to grow up and mature in the Lord.  "Then we will no longer be like children, forever changing our minds about what we believe..."  The work is for each of us to grow up and cling to the Lord's love.  
And what Truth are we clinging to?  It is the truth that we are d…