So the last week or so has been relatively uneventful, and I’ve spent the majority of the time reading various books. The highlight of the week was the Sunday service of the Nazarene church in town. It was very participatory. I had to introduce myself at the beginning in front of about 200 people in Portuguese, and different age groups lead worship songs, first the women, then the older youth, then the children, then the men. The pastor preached on the first 4 verses of Ephesians chapter 6, and was very balanced on telling kids to be good kids and parents to be good parents, and not leave their kids behind on Sundays to guard the house or watch the goats.
So two reflections I had today. The first came after talking to an American peace corps volunteer. She had expressed that she could never do what some Christian missionaries/development workers do: dedicating their entire lives to a neglected community. I’m not one myself but I wished I had thought about it enough beforehand to explain to her some of what I understand their motivations to be. First, he or she does this because her eternal joy and sense of purpose and perspective overwhelm any sense of sacrifice now. They trust the promises of God and understand that their position fits into God’s personal plan of showing love to this world. It is based on the love of the Living Creator, and it would be difficult to do out of a goodhearted sense that the West’s random historical privilege must be shared.
Also I have also realized that the world when it is fully restored (often called heaven) will be populated by the poor, the oppressed, the prisoners, and the hungry (don’t believe me, read in the scriptures Luke 4:18-19 and 6:20-24). The stories of this present and future will not be forgotten. In fact, even Jesus is still known as the slain Lamb in these restored times. (Revelation 7:9-11) Similarly, the sufferings of the poor and persecuted will be over then but not forgotten. Since I’m going to be chillin with these folks in heaven, I should stop simply seeing the least of these as the Jesus I serve(see Matthew 25:31-46), but also see them as the community that will give me a better sense of heaven.