September 13, 2019 | Dan Jackson
A young international student participated in one of our Starting Point (SP) groups. Starting Point is an 8-week small group, designed to be a safe place to explore faith and experience community. After participating a second time with SP, this young adult was encouraged to attend one of our Sunday mornings Grace Groups, so she decided to give it a try. After the second or maybe third Sunday, she stopped attending. Why?
Two things: 1) it didn’t seem to be a safe place to be real and ask honest questions about faith, and 2) other members of the group assumed she was a Christian, like everyone else. She wasn’t, and isn’t, yet.
Together with two other international students, this international student joined my wife and me for a refreshing treat at the local Dairy Queen before returning to her home country following graduation from our local college. During our conversation, the three international students spoke about another international, who also had gotten to know churchgoers in the area.
What they shared with us, shocked and saddened us.
It seems this fellow student had summoned the courage, to be honest with his acquaintances. He told them that although he enjoyed being with them, even including attending services at their church, he was not really interested in becoming a Christian. To his deep disappointment, they dropped him.
These churchgoers were no longer interested in being friendly to this international student because he was not interested - may I say it - in what they were selling.
As sad a story as this seems, it may yet have a happy ending. These three students all said that their experience with some of us had been entirely different. Even though none of these students - from Buddhist, Muslim, and non-religious backgrounds - have trusted Jesus as their Savior, yet, they continue to be open to relationships with believers. Followers of Jesus who love these international neighbors, as Jesus first loved us, even when we were His enemies.
So, let’s never leave our first love; let’s keep loving others as Jesus has first loved us.