13 March 2010

Who Would've Thought That In Five Years . . .

Have you ever asked yourself that question (finishing it out, of course)? For me, I would invert that question to a statement: It's hard to imagine that it was five years ago this month that we arrived home from India. At the beginning of March 2005, Heidi and I came home and settled in the Cincinnati area while I prepared to start my master's education at Cincinnati Bible Seminary. I still remember a lot of the feelings I had when we came back. Here are a couple of memories that stand out:
  • Shortly after our move to the Cincy area, some friends hosted a party: grilling out, meeting our friends' friends, and being shocked at some of the things we saw and heard. Realize, we had just spent two years (minus a couple of months' worth of trips) in extremely socially conservative India, where the most PDA you would see is a couple walking or sitting next to each other, and where drinking alcohol for Christians, at least the Christians we hung out with, was taboo (except at weddings when a traditional, homemade wine in a very small amount was allowed). We arrived early, so we saw everyone arrive, one of whom we were told was the youth minister at their church. I kid you not, the first words I ever heard out of this man of God's mouth were, "Hey guys! Where's the beer?" I knew then (as I know now) that there is nothing technically wrong with having an occasional, not-enough-to-get-drunk drink. But it shocked me. I immediately thought: what's his lesson going to be when he talks to the teens about drinking? "Everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial" (1 Cor. 10:23).
  • I felt conflicting emotions when I went to church in the US for several months. Some of the thoughts that went through my head: Christians here care so little about big things and so much about little things; they do realize that there's a world outside the US, don't they?; American Christians ought to cease all short-term missions until they have learned humility and cultural sensitivity [trust me, there are stories there, too]; there is so much potential in the American church!; I'm glad to see people here who care so much about the unreached nations; I'm going to slap the next person who makes fun of Hispanics for not knowing English; and many others. I suppose you could chalk a lot of it up to re-entry culture shock, but life in India has forever changed the way I think about church.
Five years ago . . . and what am I doing now? Hmmm.

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