This post is going to be less about the events of my day than it is about Charity. Not the gesture of good will, but the woman who is a teacher’s assistant in my first grade class at the school. I sat with her for most of class helping her mark workbooks, and we struck up a conversation about her thoughts on Christianity. For those who are not as familiar with Ghana’s history, Ghana was originally colonized by the British, which brought a lot of missionary activity to the local people. The evidence of which is still manifest in Ghanaian society today. I’d bank that it is impossible to drive through town without spotting a Bible verse painted on the doorpost of a business or even a Christianese-inspired trade name like “His Sovereign Strength Carpentry.” I should start writing some of these down. They are too funny! Anyhow, I don’t think I am alone in my wariness of the mark that the missionaries left here, especially considering the abuses that accompanied them at the time (cough, slavery).
I don’t know exactly what I was expecting Charity to say, but I was welcomed with the most genuine and open description of her personal relationship with Jesus. We spoke about God’s influence in her life. How she is humbled by His capacity to love and forgive her and others. How she opens every day with prayer, even about the small things. How God showed her emotional and even physical healing when modern medicine has failed or is absent. How her community finds peace and fulfillment in Jesus despite strife and loss. I was in awe.
The way Charity spoke about her relationship with Christ and how it is a significant part of her day-to-day life and interactions with others was so encouraging to me. We have all heard the hackneyed notion that America is a Christian nation, but in all honesty I could not be more afraid to express my faith in the States. I feel restrained by the threat of ridicule and ostracism from those who perceive even something like mentioning God’s impact in my day as forcing my beliefs on them. (Although, I confess I may not give people enough credit sometimes.) Yet, the street has two sides as well. I have no doubt that those who subscribe to opposing worldviews have many times felt similarly in the midst of Christians. Before the day I zealously became a self-appointed “Jesus freak,” I remember being accustomed to the fear of condemnation from those who professed religion.
It frustrates me to no end that we subject each other to such treatment. Rather than enjoying a civil conversation with someone about our beliefs, it turns into a power struggle. A discussion over matters of right and wrong (essentially, how well our ideas fall in line with reality) mutates into personal insults (actual or perceived) to one’s worth and identity. Yet, if there really are objective universal explanations to how the world works (think science!), then wouldn’t those explanations be outside of and unaffected by the random Joe Shmoe who happens to understand them? I wish we valued what others bring to the table; what we learn may change our lives! After I was persuaded to follow Christianity and accept Jesus Christ as my savior four years ago, one question has guided my life from that point forward: if there is one true worldview (whether it is atheism, secular humanism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, etc) that explains what this all means and what it is all for (if anything), wouldn’t I want to know? In the present world where we are interconnected by the click of a mouse, I am privileged to be able to hear what others have to say and to sincerely examine their view compared to my own.
I like to think of life as a group project. We all share the pieces of many different puzzles, but only one puzzle is a complete set. I imagine that this is why certain worldviews have some shared tenets while differing vastly on others. Like the idea that love, kinship, family, and community is important. Secular humanists and Christians can agree on that much, right? ;)
But I digress! You can tell what has been parading around in my head all day. Ahh. I feel indescribably grateful to have met this woman. I truly hope some of her boldness will rub off on me while I am here. I can’t control how others will react to my words, I can only take care in how I choose them. What is the benefit of living and professing my life in a way that is contrary to what I believe is true? Why overcoming this is easier said than done, I will forever wonder.
Because Your Lovingkindness is better than my life, my lips will glorify You. -Psalm 63:3
My tattoo and my stone of Sisyphus.
Nante yie <3