Sunday, March 06, 2005

Learned a new word, "daizyoubu," which means "no problem; I can do it!" Am considering this word as a possible name for the M2, or Flirt's kitten, I can't decide which. It was a visiting Japanese preacher, Pst. Nobu, who used this word in his sermon about faith.

This morning we woke up late, having slept late after an evening of carousing. It was raining heavily so we decided to avoid town area and instead take a short walk down the street to Evangel for 11am service. It's not like it was our first time there, but when we go we know to expect an all-out assault on our auditory senses. The worship is loud and enjoyably so; and everyone who preaches there, or indeed grabs hold of an unattended mike, shouts at the congregation with unbridled passion and fury. Wonderful orators, all of them, but we leave with our ears ringing and slightly groggy.

Pst. Nobu is here on a short vacation with a small crew from his church in Japan. He was introduced as a man who firmly believes that it would be a Japanese who would successfully reach out to the Japanese people. Likewise, it will be the representatives of the "unreached" peoples themselves that would make the best outreachers for their own peoples, because they understand their own people best and because they know their own culture and sensitivities best. This point was inadvertently proven correct in a real, practical manner by a member of the church leadership closer to the end of the service. But first, a story that Pst. Nobu used to illustrate what faith is.

A crowd has gathered below a length of cable stretched over the tops of 2 buildings. They watch hushed as a tightrope walker gingerly makes his way across the wire and when he safely reaches the other side, the crowd cheers wildly at his accomplishment. They call him "great," "magnificent," and "awesome!" Then they fall silent again when they hear his voice calling from his perch. "You call me these wonderful things, but is there any of you who would dare ride on my shoulders as I cross back along this tightrope?" No one responds. "Crazy," "seow!" they tell each other. Then one little boy stands up and says, "I would!" The crowd holds him back, reminding him of the danger and his social irresponsibility should he fall and make a mess on the sidewalk. But the boy brushes past every well-meaning adult and climbs up to meet the tightrope walker on the roof of the building. The tightrope walker carries the boy on his shoulders and slowly, carefully walks the wire once again. There is another hushed silence, then another round of wild cheering when they both make it safely to the other side. When the boy returns to the crowd they ask him where he got his courage to try such a dangerous thing from. He says, "Simple. The tightrope walker? He's my dad!"

Faith is knowing, really knowing who our father is, and what he can do. It's one thing to stand on the sidelines and cheer and clap and shout praises, but it's quite another when he tells us to trust him in crazy, dangerous times. Can we endure by simply trusting in him or do we balk, lose confidence, berate our situation and just sit there and say, "we're all going to die!!!"? Faith. Daizyoubu. Don't leave home without it.

It was a great sermon I thought. Then it took a Singaporean to spoil the service for me through some thoughtless, careless remark. The lady pastor who took over the mike got a bit emotional sharing (talking about, not opening up her purse and throwing money at the congregation) the church's financial blessings. She let her tears flow, sobbing occasionally, then said one really insensitive thing to our Japanese guests. "You Japanese aren't used to this... I'm crying up here, but you can't show your emotions, can you? [Imitation of Japanese stoicism] I'm Singaporean and I can express myself any way I want..." Oh, the assumptions and cultural stereotyping going on in that head of hers, letting that one utterance fly like that. That was embarrassing, but mercifully brief. I'm pretty sure it was forgotten amongst the other things she was shouting at us.

If we really want to reach out to the unreached peoples, given how culturally superior we think we are, I am convinced now that they're better off reaching out to themselves.

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