Depending on the Spirit and the Word
A Lifestyle of Discovery
Priya is our house helper. My husband and I have met in her home with her family to discuss True Stories over cups of chai. The problem is, our meetings have been few and far between due to scheduling conflicts. When they’re free, we’re not, and vice versa. We finally concluded that they didn’t really want us to come and were too polite to tell us, so we stopped mentioning it. After a few weeks, Priya asked, “When are you coming to my house again?” We suggested a few dates. Yet again, no date worked for our whole families. Too many people and too many schedules.
Others in our organization share Stories with families in homes, but they live in truly closed countries. So, they meet with a person like Priya (someone interested in the Stories) in a place they (the foreigners) have access to, such as a nearby village. The “ Priya” memorizes the Story, goes and shares it with his/her family, and then comes back and tells the foreigner how it went. In this way, workers can share Truth even in closed locations.
The Power of God’s Word
A few days ago, we wondered if this approach could also work for us. We asked Priya if she'd like to try this: She would come to our home every day, we would teach her a Truth Story, then she would go home and share it with her family. They could discuss the Story, and then she would come back and tell us how it went. She said she'd love to do that!
Today, we met for the first time. Steve made chai for the three of us. As soon as we sat down, the doorbell rang. It was our friend and translator, John. He visits often, so Priya knows him. Having John as a last minute addition to the group was great.
First, I told the Story of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector (Luke 18:9-20). When I finished, Priya asked about that tax collector. What exactly did he do? Our friend helped explain how the man in the Story was like officials here - corrupt, taking bribes, living richly off the poor. Priya was befuddled. "He did bad things, yet HE was the one who was forgiven?" I asked her if she remembered how the religious leader prayed. "Oh, yes, full of himself," she said. When she realized that it wasn't what the men had done, but the attitude of their hearts that made them forgiven and right with God, she became very quiet.
Next, we acted out the Story. My husband and our friend were the two men. I narrated. After that, we took turns telling the Story together. One person told a few lines, then the next, and so forth. Suddenly, during the fourth time through the Story, Priya realized the applications of the Story. She exclaimed, “If everyone lived this way (believing that those who humble themselves will be exalted and those who exalt themselves will be humbled), then there would be no problems in the world." Then she began to cry.
The Transformational Work of the Holy Spirit
Priya was overwhelmed by the beauty of Jesus’ perspective. She told us that pundits and religious leaders have always told her people that God doesn't care for her and her family because they are of low caste, and she daily faces this prejudice from her employers (our landlords). She's cleaned their floors for years, yet she's still not allowed to touch the furniture in the grandma's rooms. They consider Priya polluting. She's to wash the floors and leave, and the grandma watches over her to make sure she doesn't touch anything. When Priya sits to rest for a few minutes, it’s on the steps outside the house, never in the home. Yet here we were, all sitting on our furniture, drinking chai that my husband had made (the husband cooked!), and she was hearing that in Jesus' Kingdom those with humble hearts are elevated.
Priya couldn't believe it. She'd never heard anything like this Story before or seen anyone value humility. She finally commented, "But those hard-hearted people (like our landlord), they'll never believe anything like this.” Our answer was that next week, she will hear a Story about exactly that, a changed heart (Zacchaeus, the tax collector). We noted that this Story about humility seemed to touch Priya more than any of the miracle Stories we had discussed in her home. It's almost as if she expected God Incarnate to do miracles, but learning that He also elevates humility rocked her world!
She left smiling. She went home to tell the Story to her family and then discuss it with them. We don’t need to be there. They don’t need to wait for us. We look forward to hearing about their discussions. I wonder if this elevation of humility will touch the family? I wonder if they will agree? I wonder how they will apply the Story to their lives? Will they even try to, or will they assume humility is irrelevant in this society?