The Unfundamental Conversion
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I Got Hurt By the Church, so What?

June 13th, 2014 | Posted by Lana Hope in Missions

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My first trip to Asia was a uber-great experience. I lived with a mountain family living off the grid with chickens roaring in my ear all night, complete with weeds, humidity, creek water as shower and drink, and sleeping on a loft.  The husband/father of the family had a horrific childhood and in all respects made the most unlikely candidate for a missionary. But thanks to God and his AWESOMENESS, the family actually made the best candidate because they GOT IT. They understood that life is hard and hearts are wounded, but they went on anyway. Because: LIFE GOES ON, and we have to make the most of it.

Because: broken people can help people too.

At that time, although they did not know it, I was experiencing horrendous guilt thanks to the purity culture and homeschool crap. I was at splitting point where my options were either (1) stay in bed all the time (2) live in a counseling office or (3) get away.

So I went to a 9,000 foot mountain in Asia. I pulled weeds all day while praying. The family prayed for me and helped me. And I had a break through.

Our village felt like Acts. The spirit was there, people came in and out, training was taking place, and the gospel felt real and tangible.

Then I started blogging and telling my story. 99.9% of comments and emails from this blog are positive. .01% is hate mail or other arrogant people who tell me I need to GET A LIFE or pack up my bags and forget the missions field because I’m clearly too wounded and must hate God or something. (Gotta love haters.)

In real life I do not get these comments because I look STRONG. Once my neighbor in Asia said to me, “I heard your kids screaming the other day, and thought how do you do it.” I AM NOT STRONG. I just, you know, had a kid who had been abused on the streets and sometimes split and had to go scream it out in his room. I responded by pulling hairs, draining and hurting another kid (much to my regret), and praying for approximately two hours per night. I definitely should get a strong award. NOT.

I’m also an independent introvert. I get things done and don’t sleep. But I get things done. And I don’t go to the church and share my crap. My mom wounded me by gossiping about me, so I don’t talk about people. Hence, why I’ve said virtually nothing about the work I did overseas. What went on was between me and the people and not between me and the internet.

Does this mean I have a heck of a lot of learning to do? Absolutely. I learned 100 things not to do my first three years in Asia. I could write it all up, but not on the internet, you see. Because: privacy of the people.

But packing up my bags is not part of the deal. But apparently some people think I’m a crippled missionary or something. Look at this post from A Life Overseas (which for some reason felt targeted at me, I dunno).

If we’re embarrassed by the Church, it’s sure going to be hard to plant it. If we see the Church as optional and only vaguely connected with the Gospel, we’re neglecting something that is very close to the heart of the Father. We’re also ignoring something that enthralls the heart of the Son.

Okay, well, maybe I am embarrassed by the church. And I’m not going to plant it with all the baggage involved. But maybe the fact that it’s DIFFICULT to plant means: it will get better. And maybe the fact that its DIFFICULT means: they need me.

Because just moving American evangelicalism over to Asia is a terrible idea. I have a fresh perspective. Maybe not the right perspective. But a fresh one. The people in Asia loved me for it because they are TIRED of the SAME DRAMA we’re tired of.

Okay, the article goes on:

The truth is that the Church is a gloriously magnificent idea straight from the heart of the Father.

The Church is a strong entity that will not lose, even against the full forces of hell itself.

The Church is the Bride of Jesus, stunningly radiant.

The Church carries the priceless message of salvation in Jesus alone, proclaiming that everyone’s invited to the imminent feast.

But if you’ve been hurt by the Church, by people in the Church, those last few sentences were hard to stomach.

Why are we putting words in people’s stomach, eh, mouth, or whatever? No, it’s not difficult to stomach. I just got hurt, but I’m tugging along anyway, messing up, but going on anyways.

I’m thankful for that first missionary in my life who taught me that wounded people have a lot to offer the world, that healing is possible but sometimes terribly slow, but that we press on because God is pressing on with us, weeping when we weep, and rejoicing when we are rejoicing.

News flash: there is no ideal Christian or ideal missionary or ideal whatever.

But it DOES get better. I’m much better than I was two or three years ago, thanks to God and other people, but maybe not thanks to the internet. Or maybe thanks to the internet. God bless the internet and all the people off it too.

 

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  • sgl

    re: embarrassed by the church

    maggie ross, a 30-year professed solitary in the anglican tradition, and who also teached theology at oxford, had this to say:
    ———-
    http://ravenwilderness.blogspot.com/2010/11/no-place-for-silence.html

    I’m a professed religious and my sympathies are all with the alienated. Organized religion has become so embarrassing that it’s not surprising people don’t want to be associated with it. I’m not willing to use the fossilized language, either, not unless it’s ringed about with explanations and caveats and provisionality.

    ———-

    (the above comment was in response to a very good 3 hr documentary about a catholic priest who took 5 average people thru a long weekend silent retreat, and then a 9-day silent retreat, to see if they could incorporate more silence into their life.

    you read the description of the show or watch it at:
    http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/big-silence/

    or watch on youtube:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L_zDtdYu3mA
    )

    personally, i think it’s people always coming to the defence of the church, instead of holding the people responsible for their actions, which causes the problems. as just one example, if there was a mass exodus from the catholic church due to the pedophile scandals, the catholic church would be reforming faster. as it is, it seems people and institutions don’t change until they’re forced to.

  • That_Susan

    I really liked your response to that guy’s blog post. I think you and I have something in common in that we’re both Universalists. I’m a Unitarian Universalist and I don’t believe in just one way, and I think being Universalist really changes a person’s approach to missions. It becomes more about loving and serving and less about proselytizing.

    • Lana Hope

      Yes that has been my experience!

  • I especially like your title.

    We are all hurt by the church because the church is people, and people tend to hurt each other. This doesn’t mean we would just go along with whatever hurt we receive, but we do need to remember that people are people and try not to be that sort of hurtful person.

    The church definitely hurts people far too much, but the best way to deal with hurt is to avoid hurting others as much as possible.

    • Lana Hope

      Oh I LIKE THIS. Yes.

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