As one is reading this, keep in mind that a few things are weighing in on this person spoken of below. First, he is an immigrant from Columbia, so being “culturally passionate” about issues is common place. Second, the person is a newer Christian and so has the natural zeal of such a fresh believer. Third, with cultural barriers comes a frustration to express oneself well… so shorter statements are often preferred (bumper sticker mantras). The person this post is about actually has a VERY powerful background to speak on his faith, his love for his country, and the like — if only he could reign it in and hone his thoughts.
While sitting at Toyota waiting for the 40,000 mile tune-up on my car, Fox News was on in the waiting room (always is at this dealer). As the waiting area began to fill, an immigrant guy sits down next to an Asian gal who has headphones on and is — from what I can gather with books and binders by her side — studying something for a child development class of some sort. Another woman is sitting catty corner to them.
The man tried to engage in conversation with the Asian gal, he had a very heavy accent. Because Fox News was on his mind was political and he blurted out his dislike for Democrats. Very boisterously mind you. I could tell she wanted to study, but was going to engage a bit with him, but shied away after the many statements about Democrats that went something like this:
“Trump will be the best president ever. Democrats are low-class. Trash. They are all communists. They are homosexual. They hate God…”
One has to be in my mind while I was thinking that the most immigrant guy here is SUPER pro-Trump and the “raised in America her whole life college student” probably learning about multicultural studies was not computing.
Just then a press conference of some sort with Trump starts up on Fox as a couple more people enter in to watch the TV. Just as Trump starts speaking, ANOTHER immigrant gentleman comes in and mentions in a similar “south of the border accent” that Trump is a mess.
The first guy — in a very thick accent — says:
“Trump will be the best president ever. Democrats are low-class. Trash. They are all communists. They are homosexual. They hate God…” [or some combination of that]
Again, inwardly I was laughing. Because you had two immigrants with accents (the pro-Trump guy’s was thicker… giving him more authority using a leftist scale of classes — this could also be due to one was more educated in the English language from a younger age) in front of a student probably steeped in the idea that those South of the border are all anti-Trump… being privy with the others to a forceful rejection of Democrats — rightly or wrongly.
Too forceful, but hilarious to me nonetheless. I noted to myself the example we [conservatives] usually use of Democrats and their adherence to their emotional state being represented in bumper sticker responses. THIS guy was an example of the opposite. (I recalled a post of mine where some Trump supporters tried to discuss issues with Ted Cruz. I think many people voted for Trump because he speaks like they do — and wears his emotions on his sleeve as well as in general discussion. >>> Rightly or Wrongly.)
He eventually got up to go handle some business about his car, the waiting room settled down, and I got back to my reading of Michael Reeves, The Unquenchable Flame: Discovering the Heart of the Reformation. The previous interactions were fading into my memory and was reading the following…
Underpinning the whole system and mentality of medieval Roman Catholicism was an understanding of salvation that went back to Augustine (AD 354-430); Augustine’s theology of love, to be precise (how ironic that this theology of love would come to inspire great fear). Augustine taught that we exist in order to love God. However, we cannot naturally do so, but must pray for God to help us. This he does by justifying’ us, which, Augustine said, is the act in which God pours his love into our hearts (Romans 5:5). This is the effect of the grace that God was said to channel through the sacraments: by making us more and more loving, more and more just, God ‘justifies’ us. God’s grace, on this model, was the fuel needed to become a better, more just, righteous and loving person. And this was the sort of person who finally merited salvation, according to Augustine. This was what Augustine had meant when he spoke of salvation by grace.
Talk of God pouring out his grace so that we become loving and so merit salvation might have sounded lovely on Augustine’s lips; over the centuries, however, such thoughts took on a darker hue.
Michael Reeves (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2009), 19-20.
As I was finishing the paragraph this person walks back in to the waiting room, repeats his mantra above [see above], and then turns my way to walk past where I was sitting. I caught his gave and asked him if he wanted to sit down and talk. He said yes and gladly sat down next to me.
Carlos is his name. He is from Columbia.
He opened up immediately about his political and religious affiliation. I had him pause and said “as conservatives and as Christians we are suppose to change minds with speaking truth in love to people.” I continued, “by merely stating ‘x-y-z’ you are playing into a stereotype that will chase people away from your positions rather than endear them to these truths.” I then gave an example[s]:
Carlos, I asked quite a few Democrat friends I know to give me the best example of why they think Trump is a ‘bigot, racist, or xenophobe’ (or any combination thereof).” I mentioned I got three recurring themes from them. “I will explain one of them,” I said. “I usually ask a Democrat in conversation who has stated his dislike for if they agree that Trump’s statement about ‘Mexico sending their rapists and drug dealers across the border is an evidence of Trump’s bigotry, or xenophobia, or racism.'”?
“Typically,” I continued, “I get a yes. I then ask if I can share how I view this statement to share with them a perspective they probably have not heard.” Continuing in the conversation…
“Almost always they say yes. I then share that while I think Trump generalized this to Mexico he and we know that many from Honduras and El Salvador and other countries make this trip… even from Columbia.” He agreed. I continued on, “The Left-leaning human rights organization and other organizations that help these people have said that during their travels, 80% of the women and girls are raped. Eighty-Percent. I explain that by controlling our border we will stop this mass raping of those coming to get across our porous border, thus protecting these women by making it more likely they will stay with their families. NOT only that, but many of these rapists ARE crossing over the border… and by controlling our border we will protect women of all nationalities in our country from being subjected to this heinous crime.”
I explained that by having such a conversation we are not forcing a change on the person, but merely offering information that they may not heard of before, giving them a different perspective OTHER THAN this is merely a bigoted, racist, xenophobic position.
I explained as well that in the past I have met with fellow conservative/libertarian gay men and women who vote Republican. Many of whom are against gay marriage saying that the States have the AUTHORITY to set the meaning of marriage, NOT the Federal government or the Courts (like the Constitution enumerates). Others are against it because they believe heterosexual marriages have an inherent quality that under-girds society that same-sex relationships do not.
So, I explained, “homosexuals” know and love freedom and voted for Trump along a line of thinking that his (Carlos’) adamant statement does not fairly reflect — THUS building walls in people’s hearts rather than knocking them down.
We shared testimonies, he is a newer Christian of three years… he shared that his wife has mentioned to him his “exuberance.” Sometimes men need to hear it from men for it to register. We talked about iron-sharpening-iron and his obvious passion that he displays that is very cultural, and that I felt moved to talk to him out of love. He goes to a wonderful local church. He brought up Islam and his travels and speaking to Arab Muslims in other countries. Relaying their hatred for Christians and especially Jews. I shared how I approach persons of the Muslim faith… getting them to agree that the followers of Jesus and the followers Muhammad are fallen and not always the best representation of their faith. I always get an agreement with this. I then compare Jesus’ life to Muhammad’s life.
JESUS — when Peter struck off the ear of the soldier, healed it. Christ said if his followers were of any other kingdom, they would fight to get him off the cross. He also told Peter if he lived by the sword he would die by it.; Christ invited and used children as examples of how Jewish adults should view their faith… something culturally radical – inviting children into an inner-circle of a group of status oriented men such as the Pharisees was unheard of. Especially saying to them their faith must be similar; Jesus, and thusly us, can access true love because the Triune God has eternally loved (The Father loves the Son, etc. ~ unlike the Unitarian God of Islam). Love between us then: (1) my wife and I for instance, as well as family, (2) the love in community/Body of Christ, (3) love for our enemies, etc., has eternal foundations in God; This love from God towards us has caused a Sacrifice to ensure our salvation. Jesus said as well that he has “spoken openly to the world… always teaching in synagogues or at the temple, where all the Jews come together. ‘I said nothing in secret.’” The Bible also states that God cannot lie… and Jesus is God in orthodoxy. The love of Christ and the relationship he offers is bar-none the center piece of our faith… something the Muslim does not have. Which is why the Church evolved because they have a point of reference in Christ to come back to.
MUHAMMAD — (a) ordered his followers, and (b) and participated in both digging their graves and cutting the throats of between 600-to-900 men, women, and children. Some of the women and boy and girl children were taken as property. He was a military tactician that lied and told others to use deception that ultimately led to the death of many people (taqiyya): The word “Taqiyya” literally means: “Concealing, precaution, guarding.” Lying and cheating in the Arab world is not really a moral matter but a method of safeguarding honor and status, avoiding shame, and at all times exploiting possibilities, for those with the wits for it, deftly and expeditiously to convert shame into honor on their own account and vice versa for their opponents. If honor so demands, lies and cheating may become absolute imperatives.” [David PryceJones, “The Closed Circle” An interpretation of the Arabs, p4] We never see any depictions of Muhammad with children, we just know that he most likely acquired a child bride at age 6 and consummated that “marriage” when she was nine — he was a pedophile in other words; While the Qu’ran states that a follower of this book should have no more than 4 wives, we know of course that he had many more. Many more; Even the most ardent/obedient Muslim still leaves his or her entrance into “heaven” is an arbitrary choice of “Allah” … no story of love and sacrifice.
I told Carlos if this encounter looks uneasy for the Muslim person I am speaking with, I will end with:
“I pray you try to model your life more-and-more like Jesus’ rather than Muhammad’s.”
You see, knowing your worldview, being ready to give an antithesis that points to Christ and the Gospel message when witnessing, should be honed. The same applies for speaking about other important issues as well, LIKE POLITICS. If one shows a grace in interactions face-to-face with people on a political level, they are more readily apt to give you time when speaking about your faith.
The Apostle Paul was trained his whole life… and God used and transformed that training for His glory. We should all continually do the same… train as ambassadors for Christ. Carlos has a powerful story…
Carlos has a great testimony and story of his family
coming to America in the 1870’s, then leaving
for Colombia after being established for a generation here.
coming back and loving our freedoms.
…if only he would reign in the VERY obvious passion he has and redirect it a more constructive communication. Paul had a passion and zeal as well.
This takes practice by the way.
As well as care.
We all fall short in these and other areas of life. BUT (I shared), like a sail ship going to a point, it has to tack… as it approaches it’s destination those lines of crossing get tighter-and-tighter. We are ALL in a learning mode and ALL look forward in our race to glorify Christ and our ultimate glory. As we learn more about God, our faith, how the church interacts with one-another and the world… our “tacking” gets tighter. (He mentioned he likes to sail.)
I was told my car was ready
I ended with a quick reading of Roman’s 5:5 (which I had just read… God is good!):
“And hope does not disappoint, because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”
And then we said a quick prayer for God’s grace and love to always wash over us, building us up in His truth.
That was it. Hopefully Carlos contacts me, I would love to fellowship with him more.