Sunday, March 3, 2013

Awkward Introductions

Then Jesus asked the man, “What do you want me to do for you?” Luke 18:41

If I were to meet Jesus for the first time I wonder how the introductions would flow. Would I be polite using social protocol or in desperation think, hey, this might be the only chance I’ll get so I’d better hit for the moon? Would He be able to understand my need? Do anything about it?

We can expect some of our introductions with Muslims to be awkward. Ed and I were walking out of a food court when we overheard two men talking in Somali. When I hear Somali being spoken it usually finds me stopping and introducing myself and such was the case that day. One of the Somali men walked off quickly but the other remained. He introduced himself to us by blurting out, “What can you do for me?” We were taken aback by such a direct introductory question. Bypassing normal social protocol he seized the opportunity believing that we might be able to help him find a job. He was desperate. We couldn’t help him find a job without much English or qualifications but we could visit him and his family in their home which eventually did happen.

Gulchin's face clearly revealed she was under a lot of stress. She was weighed down with multiple concerns which were definitely beyond my ability to fix. I didn’t know what to do but pray for her - but my kind of praying would be something brand new to her. Nevertheless, I introduced the desire on my part to pray for her concerns and she agreed to it, though she really didn’t comprehend what I meant. Forging ahead I prayed for her. When I was done I saw her staring at me like I was from another planet. She looked dazed and was momentarily speechless. I’m sure she was thinking, who is this lady and what was that all about? I had just introduced her to a different kind of praying and type of relationship with God. As I was preparing to leave Gulchin begged me to get some groceries for her family and pressed some money into my hand. Understanding it was challenging for her to walk to the store with her small children, especially in the winter, and lug the groceries home I complied to her request. Since parking was a problem I had to walk to the store. It was challenging on icy sidewalks to lug a gallon jug of milk, bread and sack of potatoes plus my big purse. By the time I got back to her apartment I was tired! She hadn’t realized that parking would be problematic and that I would have to walk to the store – like her. She felt ashamed for having asked me. Looking into her eyes I said, “Gulchin, please don’t feel bad. This has helped me to understand you better.” I had just been introduced to some of her challenges. Hmm….That was strange. I had introduced her to a new kind of praying and she had introduced me to a difficult lifestyle.

Dear heavenly Father, please help me to know how to proceed with awkward introductions. In Jesus’ name, Amen.