2 Recent Theological Discussions

Today is our big Christmas Party for our kids and staff, and it is going to be our biggest Christmas party yet. We are expecting between 70-90 people, we have hired someone who is bringing speakers that are way to big for the space, and there is going to be a lot of food. Our kids are planning a program that will include singing, dancing, and telling stories/jokes and will last at least 2 hours. They have planned for Jessica to make a tiered cake and then they have decided to receive the gifts their sponsors sent to them last because, “We will not be able to eat if we already have our presents.” At this point in time, Woodly and Apolon are supposed to lead the party, but Woodly keeps telling us he is too shy and I have a feeling he may back out at the last minute. We will see. Anyway, there will definitely be a followup blog along with some videos and pictures, so stay tuned…

I wanted to write this blog before I forgot about it because I have had 2 very interesting theological discussions with a couple of Haitian friends of mine recently. The first discussion I had was with a local pastor about what type of clothing is appropriate to wear to church. In this specific context, we had a team down with us who did not know they would be attending a service while they were here (they came Monday and left Saturday) so they did not bring church clothes with them. They had been working with this pastor and inviting people to come to a special Thursday night evangelistic service so they were planning on then attending the service to support him. The day of the service some of the team members came to me and said that they did not think they would be able to go to the service because all they had were shorts and t-shirts and the pastor said that it would not be appropriate for them to attend. I pulled the pastor aside to talk and wanted to know why he told our group not to come after they worked with him to that point. He told me that if someone was not a Christian, then it did not matter what they wore to church, he just wanted them to come. However, if a person is a Christian then they needed to “look their best for God” and come dressed in an appropriate manner.

We never actually pinpointed what was considered “appropriate” and we never figured out who got to decide what was appropriate and what was not, but I did learn something that day. The pastor kept telling me that even if he was ok with it, the church would give him a big problem for allowing Christians to come dressed like that to his church. I explained to him that then he would have the perfect opportunity to talk with his church about what is and is not important as we worship GOD (clothing being of little importance) but to no avail. I was clearly speaking to deeply held beliefs and beliefs that this pastor really believed were Biblical. I asked him to please show me what the Bible says about this topic, but he could not. In the end, each team member found a pair of pants to wear (sweat pants, travel day pants, etc.) and were allowed to go to the service. It was just an interesting conversation and one that I hope to follow up on in the near future. He did not believe that you had to wear certain clothes to be saved, but he did believe that certain clothes were necessary to effectively worship Jesus in a church building…

The second theological discussion I had was with another friend where we discussed the question, “What is a missionary?” The interesting thing about this question is that you cannot go to the Bible and find a direct definition or description for this position so to really answer the question effectively we must take Biblical principles and turn them into a definition for the term “missionary.” I am actually not going to try and do that in this blog, but I want to focus on the points that my friend made while we were discussing because it is interesting to hear a Haitian’s point of view. They made the point that there is a difference between being a missionary and working for a foreign organization as an employee. My friend had basically noticed that there were a lot of people who consider themselves missionaries but really they just happen to have a job in a foreign country. My friend’s idea was that missionaries should have to raise at least some (if not all) of their salary or they were simply an employee of the organization. They also pointed out that, in their mind, if a person works all day at their organization, goes home at night and stays with their family, and then wakes up and does the same thing without ever going into the community or reaching out to Haitians, then they are an employee but not a missionary. I thought those 2 points were pretty interesting. I have not formed my own opinion about it yet, but I may try to think about it and write my response in a later post. Really, I want to know what you guys think? Do you think these points are valid? Are there other requirements (I know there are) that you would include? Do you believe you can be an international missionary without either of those things being true about you?

I just wanted to share these 2 recent conversations with you because they both got me thinking about things. If you get a second, let me know what you think about either of these 2 conversations and how you would have responded had you been in my position. One of the fun things about getting more and more proficient in Creole is that we can begin to have some of these conversations (even though each of these conversations occurred almost entirely in English) with people and find out their beliefs.

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