Friday, July 01, 2011

Pickled Asparagus, Radical Evangelism, Human Trafficking and Jesus

This afternoon while I was pickling asparagus (something new for me...I've never pickled asparagus before.  Just cucumbers and beets, but I like asparagus and I like beets, so pickled asparagus sounds promising.) I was thinking about radical evangelism, human trafficking and Jesus.  I know what the last three have in common, but I am still not quite sure how packing asparagus spears into piping hot jars while listening to a Sara Groves/Tenth Avenue North/JJ Heller/Laura Hackett/Laura Story playlist bought me to the other three topics.  If you have any ideas, please feel free to let me know!
Anyone who denies that human trafficking (a fancy word for slavery!) is a problem in North America, needs to wake up a little bit and read some headlines.  Google "Human Trafficking in *insert name of country or state or province here*" and what you find may surprise you. It's happening in your back yard, whether you like it or not. 
According to Canada Fights Back, human trafficking is the second largest organized crime worldwide. It brings in more profit annually than Google, Starbucks and Nike combined.  I could give you more facts, such as the fact that every 30 seconds a child is sold or the fact that 80% of the people enslaved due to human trafficking are women, but I'll stop there.  If you want to know more, google it. 
As I thought about the problem of human trafficking, the overwhelming questions on my heart were: Who is going to reach these people?  Who is going to tell them that there is a G-d who loves them, no matter what man has done to them? (70% of those sold into slavery are sold of the purpose of sexual exploitation)
I thought about who reached the slaves when slavery was legal.  In some ways it was easier then, the slaves were visible then, whereas today, many of them are hidden. As I thought more about it, my very limited knowledge brought to mind that the Gospel was shared with slaves by other slaves.  As slaves were bought and sold they carried their most precious possession with them - the saving truth of the Gospel. When they could, they sang it.  I remembered a story about two young Moravians that I used in a sermon last spring, who willingly sold themselves into slavery so that they could reach other slaves. 
As I called that story back to mind, my mind began to wander to today...could the same concept work today? Could someone sell themselves into slavery in order to reach other enslaved people?  That would be super radical evangelism.
Jesus gave us the model for radical evangelism. He could have just sent a message from heaven to tell us about His saving grace.  But I'm not sure that would have meant anything to us.  In fact, I'm almost certain it wouldn't.  It would be comparable for me telling someone who is going through a bitter divorce how to fix their marriage...I've never been married (nor divorced) and I have no training in marriage counselling (yet). They wouldn't want to listen to me and they shouldn't listen to me!  Instead, Jesus came to us.  He came to be one of us.  To walk the roads we walk, to fight the fights we fight every day.  He earned his right to be heard. He earned it along a beach with fishermen, on the long dusty roads, in the crowded synagogues, at the painful end of a Roman whipping, as the recipient of jeers and spits, on a Roman cross, and ultimately when he rose again from the grave, conquering death.  After he had earned his right to be heard, then he could share the message he came to share (and had been sharing) and have it understood and received.  
All of this thinking led me to the inevitable conclusion: in order to reach those who have been sold into slavery, in order for the Gospel to be heard by them, someone has to become one of them.  Someone has to let themselves be sold into slavery.  
It's a hard thought.  It is not something I am called to, but the question it raised in me was "what if?"  What if that was my calling? What if I had a very clear message from the Lord that my calling was to sell myself into slavery so that I could reach other slaves?  Would I go?  Would I listen?  Or would I pull a Jonah and run as fast as I could in the other direction because it seemed so extreme? What about you?  What f that was G-d's calling on your life?  Would you go?
It's easy to say that you would follow G-d's call on your life, no matter what is.  To stand up or raise your hand at a retreat or after a short term mission trip and say that you are ready to follow G-d's call, no matter what it is, but it's another thing to realize what a potential calling might be, what it would mean, and then still say that you would follow no matter what.
For those of you holding your breath out of curiosity, wanting to know if I would actually sell myself into slavery if that is what G-d called me to: the answer is that I don't know. I would have to do some pretty serious praying about it first.  And then, at some point, if I were 100% sure that this is what I was called to do, then I would pray that I would have the faith to follow through. And that answer goes for anything that G-d might call me to, not just selling myself into slavery.

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