30 May 2006

thoughts on reconciliation

Maybe this isn't the best place to air these thoughts, but I'm going to anyways. As part of my job I was involved in planning and helping facilitate a prayer conference for the Congo (DRC) this past weekend. New City has had immigrants/refugees from the Congo in our congregation for I'm not sure how long now--6 years?

We hosted so that Congolese who are scattered throughout the U.S. could come together as a group to cry out to God for their country, which has pretty much been in a state of chaos--its citizens in danger for their lives from political instability, starvation, civil war, and a myriad of other things. Women and girls have beena abducted and raped (read about it. here and here).

It was an exhausting and in many many ways frustrating several weeks leading up to the conference, and working during it was also not really a picnic. I was too busy to go into the meetings during the conference, but I hope that the fellowship and reunion of countrymen(even though many of the participants had never met)was sweet, and that the Lord heard their united cries for healing and justice.

My quesion about reconciliation is this: I had to twist my own arm to get myself going when it came to this conference. I didn't want to be there, really, and I had a bad attitude.

In spite of this, I was really disappointed and somewhat surprised that more people from our church didn't come for some of the prayer meetings. But like I said, if I hadn't been sort of forced to be involved, I probably would not have been there either.

So why is it so SO hard to love those who are culturally different from us? Why can I love my best friends' kids to pieces but not care in a real way what might be happening to children in the Congo at this very moment...not perfect strangers, but people connected to me through my own church body? Why is it such a battle to put myself in others' shoes? This weekend, I had to repeatedly think: "If I had to flee the U.S. and hunker down in some foreign land--knowing that my relatives and friends were still suffering, my kids not having enough to eat, my friends daughters being brutally raped--that would be awful beyond reckoning."

Lord, open our eyes. We have so much to learn about what it means to be a family, and about what it means to love the way He loves. We need more of Him. That's all there is to it.

4 Comments:

Blogger Lisa said...

I like your insight and your honesty. I also like that it took me about 3 seconds to find a referenfe to jugs and lures on this blog. I think I will read more. :)

11:57 AM  
Anonymous Heidi Vincent said...

Warning this is long response! I hear you Angela. As you know, I was frustrated at the conference too. I felt like parents didn’t care if those helping were overwhelmed. I think reconciliation’s hard because those who we desire to be reconciled with come with different understandings of responsibility, different pains, different joys…perhaps kids going ballistic is o.k. in some places, but ahhhhhhhh not MY place please! When I came to New City, I thought that being a Christian would break down all cultural walls and things would be all multi-ethnic and joyous---with problems---but not any more problems than being in a less diverse church. Really I’ve found being a Christian just opened my eyes to the need and the understanding that God has got to make me willing to put in the time and work true reconciliation takes. Which is often ungratifing…For example,
When I lived in Michigan I worked with a woman from a refugee camp in the Congo. The only way the two of us could really connect was through her teaching me how to make this stuff called Foo Foo from yams and corn meal. She had been raped and beaten because one of the usurping tribes had different gender politics than she had…long story…in any case, she was calloused from her experiences and I took her coldness too personally. I found working with her difficult. We did well when I didn’t ask too many questions and I let her teach me things. This way of relating was hard for me. I remembered feeling frustrated like a little kid too stupid to bring anything worthwhile to her table. She didn't want me to try "walking in her shoes"...by this I mean she wouldn't give me details about her situation in Congo. Further more, I felt annoyed that she didn’t care about my grandiose notions of reconciliation I tried to put before her...she wanted to make it through her days in one piece. I wanted to pick her brain to pieces for a formula to heal things. It was painful but a good eye-opener to the danger of ascribing to any given image of reconciliation. She and I never got to a level of sheer comfort with each other, but I think in some way there was some reconciliation happening just by me dying to my tendency to expect people to flesh out their spin on whatever I put before them. Now about getting other people to be involved from the church…I say…as you said… “Lord open our eyes”! The Holy Spirit nudged me to go the conference and I'm sure He's gonna keep on nudging.

2:50 PM  
Blogger linz said...

I love your precious real heart.

11:44 PM  
Blogger Heidi said...

wow!

3:11 PM  

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