Honesty time. I have thoughts and feelings that don't honor Christ. I have attitudes and mindsets that hold me back from loving people. But I want the Holy Spirit to continue to transform me to be more like Christ. And the photographs of a tattooed artist inspired me to reach out to others in love.
Missions often feels foreign and strange. As I watch the excellent Lost in India videos, I find myself disconnected from the people Chris meets. They are different from me. That makes it easy to slip into a mindset that these men, women, and children are all ... "less." One example: The fact that their English sometimes requires subtitles can plant a weed of doubt about their intelligence. That's ridiculous because they speak two languages. I barely speak one! Impressions clearly don't always line up with reality.
Do you experience this?
Maybe not. I do. It's embarrassing to even think about some of the biases I have. But these crop up all over the place. In politics there's a powerful tendency to smear the other side as stupid, heartless, or out of touch. In religion it's easy to mock the beliefs and practices of another. In pet ideals it's common to look down on those who don't eat organic, vaccinate, support your cause, or floss. The internet is filled with people denouncing others.
But then I watched the CBS video about Touching Strangers:
Hat Tip: Amy Caroline
This is the crazy thing: When we reach out to others, we discover they are human. We care. Which makes my incorrect impressions all the more frustrating! I've been to India and deeply connected with several friends there. Their speech, dress, food... I found it endearing and delightful! But now, back home, disconnected by 8,000 miles, the new strangers on my computer screen are odd and foreign and a little bit scary.
As I think back on all the missionary biographies I read in Sonlight's curriculum, I imagine again what it was like. I've met people very different from me. It's awkward at first. But then something amazing happens: I discover the joy of connecting with someone new. The stranger has become a friend.
And all it took was taking the time to reach out.
May we not hide away out of fear or disinterest or detachment. Instead, may the love of Christ motivate us to reach out and touch others, metaphorically, if not literally.
Filmmaker, Writer, Guardian
P.S. See some pictures from Touching Strangers on Renaldi's website.