Visiting other countries has a way of opening your eyes and instilling an attitude of gratitude. In 2008 Austin and I took a team of students to Russia for a 6 weeks long missions trip. (Asher had his first birthday there) Do you know much about Russia? Well, how do I say this... I liked the people, but the country itself is really messed up. Let me explain what I mean. One day some cops set up a brand new stop sign and sat there and pulled everyone over that ran the stop sign and wrote them huge tickets unless they paid them off. Or with the college students, one girl told us that 14 of the 17 students in her class paid for their grade. That is Russia. Almost an entire country governed by bribes. It takes an entire day of standing in line and paper work to pay your bills because hardly anyone is truly educated, but just paid their way out of learning.
Or what about Cambodia? A country thats been beaten up, abandoned and used. The educated, religous, doctors, anyone other than peasants were killed. Think the holocaust. The kids were forced to kill their parents by the Khmer Rouge. Now those kids are grown and have kids and their source of income... selling their daughters (reguardless of age) for sex. I guess if you are forced to kill your own parents that messes you up pretty bad making selling your daughter for sex to foreigners seem normal. And because of the western world's (specifically America) pornography promblem (which I have been researching for a talk I gave at last weekends retreat-I will share my findings this weekend under my Just Thinking tab. Be prepared to have your face shocked off!) that leads to sexual addiction that is never satisfied and leads to men flying overseas to have sex with these 5 year old girls.
If you have a desire for justice, I imagine these stories make you mad as they do me. The government, the leaders of a country are suppose to want what's best for the people, not rob them. Parents are suppose to protect their daughters, not throw them to the wolves. To be honest, I think my feelings may be close to hate. I've looked those girls in the eyes. I've held them and hugged them the night after horror. I've come face to face with a 60 something year old man from Sweden in our hotel with a 14ish year old girl sitting outside his hotel room by the elevator. Her just wearing his button down shirt while he smoked a cigarette. I reamed him, I wanted to expose him to the world for what he was, so I took his picture and threatened to plaster it all over the internet.
And this morning I'm humbled. I come face to face with Jesus, so different than me seen in Mark 2:13-14. He runs into Levi who works for the outrageous sinner Herod Antipas. Herod who had an affair with and stole his brothers wife. The guy who had his neice dance in front of guests (I'm sure it had to be seductive) and then ended up killing John the Baptist. Levi, the man who bribed, just like the cops in Russia. The man who cared more about his pleasure than being concerned for others well-being, just like the Swedish man in Cambodia. But instead of hate, I see Jesus invite.
I can't help but wonder what would have happened if I shared the gospel with the Swedish man instead of flip out trying to put him in his place. After all, the gospel is the only thing that can really change him. But in the moment, I could think of nothing else through my shaking heart and hands but a longing for justice, for a price to be paid. Yet Jesus had paid the price, Jesus took his guilt and shame. Jesus took the Father's wrath on this swedish man's behalf and if he would receive it, he would be changed from the inside out, the only hope for redemption and rescue.
Then the Lord leads me to think about the adulterous woman. The woman who ruined lives, the homewrecker. Jesus extends outrageous grace. If Jesus caught the swedish man with the 14 year old Cambodian girl, he would have said, "Follow me" just like He said to Levi. He would have said, "Go and sin no more" just like He said to the lady caught in adultery.
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More in this series on Mark:
A Glimpse of the Wow-ing God 1:1-8
I was Ruined for Anything Else 1:16-18
Amazed and wanting to throw off a cliff. 1:21-28
When the need and your calling don't match. 1:29-39
17 Years Paid Off 2:1-12
I'm linked up with the beautiful ladies at Fellowship Fridays, Nebraska Graceful, Reflection of Him,Spiritual Sunday, Heart Reflected, The Better Mom, Create with Joy.
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Faith Filled Friday Blog Hop Link Up
W e exist to glorify God, to display His heart and character. And I just love how we are all uniquely built to do that. So every Friday I want to give you, uniquely designed by God, an opportunity to link up your thoughts on God, art, baking, photography, parenting, marriage, homeschooling, writing or blogging and more if they tie into or display the the Lord somehow.
So go ahead and link up below by clicking the link below and following the prompts. Please just let your readers know by including a link at the bottom of your post (or somewhere on your side bar) or put my button code (found on my side bar or the Faith Filled Friday Tab) so they can find these other great people glorifying God and we can continue to grow as a community.Thanks!
And in effort to encourage others in their writing by faith, please take a minute to comment on the two posts linked up before you.