I dreaded going out to the party last night. Back home I practically never go out at night because I have a job that requires an extremely early start time. In addition to that, I don’t really care for being around large groups of people who are drinking. It’s just not my favorite thing; I much prefer a book, or at the most, hanging out with 1 or 2 people. But not a huge house party, and not with people I don’t know. But while I’m on vacation with my friend, I am hardly in a position to say no to a party.
Not wanting to have a miserable night waiting for it to end, I decided to ask God to give me a purpose for being there, and to minister to whomever he put in my path. Which is silly because he does that all the time. But I just tried to be aware of it, and as always, He came through!
I spent some time talking with 3 different girls during the course of the party. I don’t remember all of their names, but one was from Colombia, one from Argentina, and one who had just moved here from Santa Monica (talking to someone from LA made me feel much more at home!). They all had vastly different stories but all struggled with similar pains: moving away from home, and trying to figure out how to fit in. I didn’t have giant pearls or wisdom or anything, but I ministered, as the varied grace of God permitted (1 Pet 4:10) which means I gave them my whole attention and listened. The one girl from Colombia said she desired to find a church community. I found her a bunch on my iphone, and then because we’re in the South, and she’s Catholic, she asked me my opinion on the general religion in this area.
I would say in general the US is probably more protestant, but in the South, it’s even more so. Then she went on to ask what the difference was. This is the second time I’ve had the opportunity to explain the difference. Not wishing to persuade her for my own agenda by making one sound attractive and the other unattractive, I simply stuck to the basics of salvation, nothing more. It can get very convoluted if you hang on to the details, and this is something I have and still have a hard time with but at the root, it’s like this. Protestants believe you are justified as soon as you believe in Jesus’ grace; Catholics believe you are only justified if, after living a life of faith and works (which of course are not possible on your own), you die in the state of grace.
It’s crazy to think that God had planned it from the beginning, that little ole me, who is so ignorant and so struggling, could fly 2,000 mi away from home just to be a listening ear to someone who wanted to find a church but didn’t quite know where to start. I’m pretty comfortable finding a church wherever I am and just going by myself. It was wonderful to share that confidence with someone else. Praying for many more opportunities like that this week!