I’ll let Michele do have my blog today. I got this email after she had read a downloaded version of So You Don’t Want to Go to Church Anymore and wrote me this letter. This could be the last post ever on this blog because it speaks my heart as well as anything can:
My day got interrupted with your book! A long time friend told me I should download it, which I did in the London airport on my way home back to the bush of Southern Sudan. Three weeks later I got caught up in your story and my tissue box became my friend. I am a simple little white city girl from Florida who is now in Sudan taking in orphaned children to live with her.
I was really relieved when Jesus called me to move to Sudan out of the west… when I got here I realized it was ten times more religious than anything I have ever seen and the “Christian” south is an absolute cartoon mockery, as caricature of all things of the religious system called Christianity with all the avarice it breeds. Leaders who actually know Jesus estimate maybe only 3% of people here actually know Jesus, really. The spirit of religion is soooooo strong here it feels choking at times—totally empowered by a spirit of fear. It is only Jesus as He truly His and His life that will draw them—and He is the only one that can fix this mess.
When I was in the simple church movement in the west with campus churches, a few months into it I realized I was training people how to plant churches so nicely they could do it with out God… and a few months more it seemed to me we were reproducing another box we tried to contain God in and saying our box was better than the other boxes. Now, after nearing 2 years in the war torn bush of central Africa I don’t really give a rip whether it is house church or legacy church or cell church or open church, a sitting room, a sanctuary or a stadium- if people are growing in Jesus, walking in love with one another and being the face of His love to the world around them. It is just about love and life and Him.
I don’t want to have to figure out whether I should embrace the system, conform, reform or vacate. I don’t have time. Other things are too precious. I just want to do what He is doing and love people. I don’t want to debate what is the right way to have church- I DON’T GIVE A RIP because it all can become a box and a prison if not filled with His life so why can’t we all just focus on Him and fall in love with Him and love the people around us. I don’t want to figure it all out—I can’t. I was just holding a dying woman in my arms in the hospital here whose family will not feed her or help her because the stench of rotting flesh is too bad and she soils herself and people are arguing if they should meet in homes or buildings. Last week a blind woman saw, this week another woman lay dying in my arms, I cannot figure it out. I can’t even try anymore. If I can’t embrace His mystery and love Him beyond my little understanding, I will limit the place I give to His majesty to be revealed in and through my life. Meet under a tree, rent a cathedral, go on a hike with your family- but love people—learn about love. Learn of Him. Live in Him. Have an encounter in Him, live in encounter with Him, be His encounter to those around you. That’s what He said to me last night. Can’t we just do that? I don’t have any answers or anything except a heart cry to love each person He sets in front of me and stay in His Presence because I love Him more than I love anything. He is my life.
Thank you for describing the One I love more than life, so beautifully and accurately. It means a lot. I met Him face to face when I was seven and He walked into my room. Very few I have read or heard actually describe the One Who captured my heart as a little girl. You have.