Posted by: ritagone | April 27, 2011

This and That

“Let’s go to Uganda for our family vacation this summer!”  This is a statement I have never heard in all my years of listening to friends making vacation plans.  Or making them with my own family through the years.

“I’d love to get to Paris,” on the other hand, is a dream of many an American, and has been for decades.  Or “We’re going to Florence!” to the yells and screams of happy faces of family members.

And this, in a nutshell, is one of the problems and difficulties with ministries like Christian Associates bringing the gospel to Europe.

Americans don’t think of Europe as needing the gospel.

They think of Europe as where they are saving their pennies and dollars to be able to travel to to see the sights: the Eiffel Tower, the Trevi Fountain, Big Ben, Neuschwanstein Castle.  They think of the big churches of Europe because they have read “Pillars of the Earth” or seen the mini-series.  They know Westminster Abbey and Notre Dame.  Their minds are steeped in the history and lore of Europe, Stonehenge and Roman roads and Austrian Alps, Hans Christian Andersen story settings in Denmark, Belgian lace factories and German beer houses.

No wonder, then, that it’s difficult to tell them that those beautiful, historic churches are empty and have them understand the message.  Or that the spiritual temperature of Europe is so cold and clammy that it is in danger of being pronounced dead.

And I think this is something those of us who deal in Europe and its spiritual health need to constantly keep before us, a truth so vital that to forget it means to lose sight of much of what spurs us on.  There are some truths and realities that should not be forgotten, and I believe this is one of them.  To forget this means great peril spiritually.

In the season 6 opener episode of “Dr. Who,” one of my favorite current British science fiction TV shows, there’s an alien which has the uncanny ability to make you forget about it the minute you look away from it.  While you’re looking directly at it, you are frightened to death, because it’s rather gruesome looking (and I assume can do terrible things to you, although that has yet to be revealed in the first episode).  But the minute your eyes go elsewhere, you literally forget that it exists.  This makes fighting the enemy quite impossible; how can you fight an enemy that you instantly forget is there?  How can you fight an enemy that you are immediately unaware of?

Like this amazingly creative enemy on the television program, one of our enemies is forgetting that Europe in the minds of Americans is often a glittering, glamorous getaway that you save your money for, you dream about, you plan for and finally, finally you get to fly to and spend two weeks with guidebook in hand and camera around the neck.  (Okay, that’s an old image, granted, because your camera is probably now your phone.)

So we must constantly remember as we plant churches and as we send out people to various cities of Europe that there’s more to Paris and London and Rome and Berlin than just vacation goals.  What we must convince Americans of is the importance of revitalizing these places with the message that Jesus Christ and the glorious gospel is relevant and vital to a continent that now prides itself on being secular and post-Christian.

If we lose Europe to Christianity, we have lost a great battle.  It would be comparable, I imagine, to having lost the beaches of Normandy on D-Day: something you can recover from, but which will take much more effort and perseverance than if instead we win now.

This is true, of course, of other continents for which Americans in particular have in mind vacations instead of perhaps the gospel.  Think South America and places like Rio or Montevideo, and then re-think them as cities where we must also bring the news of Jesus Christ as well as our suitcases and dollars.  Wherever our flights and fancies take us, we must also think missionally and prayerfully as well as how we’re going to work on our tans and where we’re going to have the next meal.

What we don’t want to become is the victim of that alien on “Dr. Who” who, turning away from the monster, forgets that it’s actually there, and in forgetting, walks away and ignores the danger and the imminent threat.

Something to think about, and most definitely, to pray about as you go about your day today or tomorrow.

Have a great rest of the week and enjoy the weekend.  And if you’re invited to the Royal Wedding, please let the rest of us know what it was like on the “inside.”  Anyone?  Anyone?  Come on, Linus, we know you got your invite and are just not telling the rest of us!

 

Regards, Rita

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Responses

  1. I stumbled over your blog when I googled “Rita’s this and that”. I want to blogging and I am searching for a suitable name.

    Anyway, glad I read this, seeing that am Ugandan 🙂 Are their any friends/family in Uganda?

    God bless.

    • Hi. Glad to hear from you. We do have friends in Uganda, a few pastors in the Kampala region. My husband and my son have been there several times, but I have not. They love the people and are planning to go again next year. Thank you for reading my blog, and I wish you good luck with your blogging. This is all very new to me!!


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