We were 36,000 feet up, on our way to the Missional Women’s Conference. I saw him from afar, and anticipated whether his six-foot, four frame would land on the empty, isle seat next to me.
We started talking. He was a world-traveling designer, for one of the top brands. I was a housewife, headed to speak at a conference with my daughter, in Denver.
And yet, we both believed in love and peace, appreciated different cultures, and both coincidently had just flown to Shanghai, just a few weeks earlier.
Kyle had once studied theology, and was headed to restore relationships with a brother he had been estranged with.
My gut told me no sermon or doctrine, no preaching, or forcing my religion would heal what other believers had done to him.
Still, I am sure he saw my red-rubber bracelet , saying “Chinaorphans.org”, and, “James 1:27”.
He eventually asked where we were going and what made my hurt burn. My daughter shared about the conference, and I shared how we were passionate about foster care and adoption.
Kyle told me he had a similar heart.
I gave him a small piece of puzzle I was going to use at the conference, saying, “This is your piece in the story of adoption.”
He put it in his pocket and said he will treasure and keep it.
By the time we came down from the clouds, I knew I had a kindred spirit with Kyle. Theology had failed him, Christians had betrayed him, and I knew words alone would never convince him.
But scripture reminded me, “Not by might, or by power, but only His Spirit says the Lord”. (Zack. 4:6)
I think about and pray for Kyle often. After meeting him, God reminded me of four ways to evangelize:
During the three hour flight, they condemned tattoos, people living together, single parents, and a broad list of other people who didn’t look and act like them.
Despite how they look on the outside, their hearts were clearly far from him. (Isaiah 29:13)
And I wonder if Kyle was still sitting with us listening.
Would he have been more receptive to their condemnation?
As we evangelize, let us walk in grace and humility, love and compassion, with wisdom and understanding.
For even if our theology is correct, we must remember what Jesus teaches….
They will know us by our love. (John 13:35)
Though born, raised, and still living only miles from where she grew up, Jen's heart lies in the nations. Jen loves the beautiful tapestry found in the wide diversity of people, different cultures, and all nations. Jen and her husband have been married twenty years, and have parented fifteen kids and counting; twelve foster, one adopted, and two bios. Her multi-racial family reflects her passion for unity, desire for faith without walls, and missional mindset to share both the gospel and the power of redemption to a world desperately needing the hope found in Jesus Christ. Jen and her husband have led in a variety of ministries; including prayer, small groups, children's, and women’s. Jen advocates for the orphan as a board member for the non-profit, A New Song; and loves doing missions work internationally, along with her family. You can find Jen writing about faith, while challenging her readers at her blog, Rich Faith Rising, as well as at tweeting faith-filled messages @Jen_Avellaneda . Jen is also on facebook.
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