My second story is about Yoshie – a Japanese designer who loves the outdoors. I met Yoshie when I went hiking on Manly beach. We were both lost and trying to find our way back to the main road from the bush. Since finding each other when we were lost hiking, we have been texting each other about going hiking in other places in Sydney, but busyness in our lives had kept this from happening. Finally we re-connected when I invited her to my friends’ Halloween party. We left early to go search for food. In the midst of our conversation about culture, boys, work, and studies, the story of God and His Community came up. Yoshie was exposed to Christianity when she was in the States for few years, but some of her questions never got answered such as: “I don’t mind going to my friends’ church, but why don’t they come to my events? Why do Christians love me, but hate each other? Can I get to know God without going to a normal church?”
That night God taught me the lesson that everyone is curious about God (could be other Gods) and community. Our job is to listen and ask right questions. How do we do it? We have the joy of walking with God everyday and asking Him what He is doing. I can’t wait to start forming a community with Yoshie around food, hiking, and beach volleyball. In the midst of working with God, He wants us to have tons of fun as well. This is my story of how the Kingdom of Heaven is happening wherever we go for fun and relaxation.
On the other hand, postgraduate school has been pretty intense. One of the requirements of my studies is that we have to do group projects with another person. I was praying for a good partner who would be hungry to learn and also have fun. God answered my prayer by sending me Adriana – a girl from New Zealand with Brazilian roots. Adriana has an amazing work ethic, and is very intelligent. We have pushed each other to achieve high quality work in school. After working on 15 projects together, we haven’t killed each other. This is a good sign. We have learned how work together and trust each other. In the midst of school projects, we take time to be each other’s therapist, and we have learned about each other’s family, culture, dreams and beliefs. I started sharing with Adriana about Jesus and what it means to be a Jesus follower. Through the trust that we have built over the last eight months, Adriana has opened up to me and shared with me her desire to seek out His Kingdom. I cannot wait to walk with Adriana through this journey next year over good food, wine, gardening, and business.
My last story is how the Kingdom of God is happening at work. Neil is my industry mentor for my consulting project at an organic certified business here in Australia. One day in the middle of our normal discussion about work the story of Jesus just came up. I found out that he has been curious about God for a long time, but disillusioned with Christianity because of how other Christians have failed him. To be honest, I am always nervous before having a meeting with Neil, because he is so intelligent and successful in the field of psychology and business while I am just a kid with a burning heart filled with God’s love. However, I could not keep myself from sharing with Neil about the love of Jesus, and telling him my story of what Jesus has done in my life. My hope is that God will reveal Himself to Neil in the language that he will understand.
Through this relationship I have learned that Jesus is not a math problem. Jesus is like a poem. A poem can be simply words every time we read it, but the layers of its meaning are only revealed when we spend the time meditating on it, and experiencing it. Poems speak not only to the head but also the heart. The only way we can experience the poem is to read it together through fellowship. This is how it is with Jesus. To really know Jesus, we need to experience Him through an encounter we have with Him personally and through His community. It is not enough to just know information about Him.
I hope that my four chosen short stories will encourage you to see how simple church, fellowship, and discipling can be. If you start looking to build relationships with not-yet-Jesus followers in the community that God has already put you in, you will be amazed at how many opportunities you will find. Relationship is the starting point of your journey with God and His community, because none of us live in a silo. Food is a great stimulus for relationships to flourish. If you don’t like food, you can find other things that you have in common with the people in your circles. When trust is established and when the Holy Spirit urges you to share; you need to obey and respond. “…To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.” (1Samuel 15: 22)
This is when the beauty of partnership with God shines through. I cannot put it in words how wonderful this feeling is when it happens. Start with simple acts of love, then practice listening, responding to what you hear, and praying together for and with your friends. Pray simple prayers. Pray like you would talk to your father, mother, brother or sister. Please don’t use jargon and church language, because it doesn’t make any sense to your friends. Pray with the language of the heart which will powerfully connect with the spirit.
Working along side Jesus is definitely fun and rewarding, but you need to pay attention and do it intentionally. You need planning to be able to be flexible and spontaneous when the opportunity comes.
I cannot wait to hear your stories. Please share them with us when you can.
Application Questions to Practice:
Have you ever asked yourselves when would be the right time to become a spiritual parent? How long should we walk with Jesus before we reach out to others and disciple them? I hope that my experience can encourage you to go and search for the answer.