Surprising to me, two new lovely friends came to the church to support me!
After the service they invited me to go eat lunch with them.
On the way, my friends tell me we are going to go visit a friend of their’s and eat at her house. Then they ask, “She isn’t a Christian, is that ok?”
We arrive at a grocery store to meet her and pick up some food for lunch. And with this friend stands two red-headed guys. They’ve clearly been traveling. Shaggy hair, tan lines, worn clothes and tattoos. I learn they are from Austria and Switzerland traveling South America together. We use Spanish and a mix of English to interact.
When we arrive to the house we eat plenty of great Bolivian foods , the guys drink plenty of Bolivian beers, we listen to cumbia music and talk tattoos for hours. We then take a walk to a river and enjoy the sights and festivities in the park nearby.
When it was time to go, I started walking back to the bus stop ahead of the rest of the group with my new Austrian friend. I ask him about his travels, his family, and culture. I then ask about his beliefs. His faith. His insights from so much experience around the world.
He pulls ideas from several major religions and forms his own morals, then asks me, “Betani, what do you believe?” …… “Well, I’ve just about tried it all. But I follow Jesus. Only Jesus.”
We all start to walk home, chatting about our unique lives and stories.
And when we begin to part ways I hear my name with an Austrian accent, “Hey, Betani! Quieres beber una cerveza y hablar más mañana?” (Do you want to have a beer and talk more tomorrow?)
— Why tell you this story? Because I’m convinced that the time I spent with these new friends was a blessing, but also a blatant opportunity to be a witness. I hope my friends understand that they don’t have to ask me, “is it okay that they aren’t Christians” before we go and hang out with someone.
Yet how many of us would be “okay” to go from leading worship to sitting around a table of cigarettes, tattoos, beer, and lots of swear words? Let’s not forget that “being like Jesus” looks a lot like that.
“Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” And Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” Luke 5:27-32
In the midst of discipleship, conferences, and building church leaders let’s not forget to make disciples. Friends, I can’t wait to decline more beer and marijuana so that I can talk about the grace of Jesus who still sits with the people we avoid on Sundays.