Monday, September 28, 2009

Home At Last! -- A Postscript

After fifteen days of travel and ministry half-way around the world, we are finally home. We left Ukarumpa around 12:30pm on Thursday, Eastern Standard Time and arrived in Rochester at about 9:30am EST today (Sunday). All in, that’s sixty-nine hours of travel – just shy of three days. We’re all tired, blessed and happy to be home with the family and friends we love.

Our long layover in L.A. gave us a chance to leave the airport. So we rented a fifteen-seat van, piled in and drove off to Venice Beach, where the Pacific surf met our weary feet. It was a cool and foggy day, but that didn’t keep young ones from splashing in the waves, or surfer-dudes from riding the curls.

In small groups and in pairs, we walked the beach and wandered along the midway – the street of shops that runs parallel with the beach. There were souvenir shops, head shops, food stands, street entertainers and outdoor gyms. The aroma of grilled turkey legs and funnel cakes mixed with the smell of marijuana. Life and death mixed together.

Hoods hung out in small gangs trying to peddle their own rap CDs; others offered testing for medical marijuana. One young boy sported a tee-shirt with the words “F--- milk. Got pot?” There were no missing letters on his shirt. Our family walked into a souvenir shop and marched back out when we saw the large posters of topless women lining the far wall.

Some would call this “colorful.” It was really a celebration of sex, drugs and narcissism – a worship of the created rather than the creator. Having gone half-way around the world to share the gospel with people who have not yet heard it, this was a sobering reminder that our closest mission field is right here at home – on the streets of L.A. and in Rochester, New York.

As we turned to leave this marketplace of sensuality and license, we stumbled upon another group. They were young men and women; white, yellow, black and brown; a multi-cultural collection of Christ followers. They, too, were on a mission: “to love Jesus and love like Jesus.” So, into the midst of this darkness, they poured light by singing songs of the gospel. Life and death mixed together.

We joined with them and sang along. We were blessed and they were, too. The head shop owner across the walk turned up his rap music to drown us out. There is a war being waged here and it’s more than cultural; it is spiritual and it is real. It’s not about behavior; it’s about life and death. It’s about faith.

Some 4,000 years ago, the great liberator, Moses, laid before his people a choice:

"This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him." (Deuteronomy 30:19-20)

Today we have the same choice. Whom will you serve?

Choose Jesus: the Way, the Truth, the Life.