The Life of Maestra Megan

Adventures in the life of a Costa Rican Missionary

In Ten Minutes… (or, Shame on the Church) July 24, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — ticameg @ 11:28 pm

“I just learned more from you in 10 minutes,

than in all my years in CCD [in the Roman Catholic church],” Vinnie blurted out…

Vincenzo and his brother Michael are part of a 20 person team down from Westchester County, New York.  For almost 9 years now, the Somers school district has been raising funds for our programs in La Carpio…and it has been a privilege to partner with them and see their enthusiasm for serving others.

Yet it is a unique team, in that only the two leaders are believers in Christ.   Usually the conversations look like this:  the New Yorkers keep saying that we are “angels” or “wonderful people”, and talk about the importance of helping others less fortunate than themselves.  And we respond that we are simply God’s servants, working where He calls us.  Whether or not we can actually help people rise out of poverty, we are motivated by God’s love to reach out to all–even enemies–and share the message of Christ’s death on the cross.

Sitting around our steaks, I was enjoying “regular conversation” with 6 recent high school and college graduates…when Vinnie started asking more and more questions about my faith, about God, about the Bible.  I tried to answer honestly and directly, admitted that I could not explain everything, but that it comes down to this:

10 out of 10 people die.  One death, and after that comes judgment.  (Hebrews 9:27)  Everyone has sinned; we all fall short of meeting God’s perfect standard. (Romans 3:23)  To those who trust they have lived a good life, I offer this:  the person who keeps all of God’s laws except one, is as guilty as a person who has broken all of God’s laws. (James 2:10)  And those who have broken God’s law (sinned) even just once in their entire lives will go to hell. (Matt 7:21-23 among others)  Which leaves us in a tough position:  we are ALL going to hell??? Since we ALL fall short???  Exactly. Only God is perfect.

So God sent Himself–His only precious son, Jesus Christ.  And when God-as-man died on the cross, his very perfection became the ONE, THE ONLY SACRIFICE NECESSARY.  Nothing but the cross, once for all humankind. (Hebrews 9:28)

And whoever believes that Jesus was God and accepts that Jesus’ death wipes away all your sins, without any work necessary on your part, is sealed unto God, as His child forever.  (John 3:16, 1 John 2:12)  Nothing on this earth can then separate you from God, nor keep you from the promise of eternal life.

Back to Vinnie’s comment, “I just learned more from you in 10 minutes, than in all my years in CCD.” 

To that, I say shame on the Church.  Yes, shame on the Roman Catholic Church.  And on the Baptist Church.  The United Methodist Church.  The Episcopalian Church.  The Assemblies of God.  The Lutheran church. Greek Orthodox.  And every other church that professes the Bible as the true word of God and Jesus Christ as Redeemer of our sins, yet fails when its community does not fully understand the salvation plan so clearly laid out in the Bible’s pages.

Jesus told his followers (which also includes us): Go, announce to all that the Kingdom of Heaven is near. Make disciples, baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and teach them to obey all the commands I have given you.  (Matthew 10:7, 28:19)  The gospel means good news, people!! Get out there and start sharing this good news–the same way you promote a book, or a movie, or an NFL team…

“Yet preaching the Good News is not something I can boast about.  I am compelled by God to do it.  How terrible for me if I didn’t preach the Good News!  If I were doing this on my own initiative, I would deserve payment.  But I have no choice, for God has given me this sacred trust.” (1 Corinthians 9:16-17)


2 Responses to “In Ten Minutes… (or, Shame on the Church)”

  1. Anne harris Says:

    Dear, dear Megan,

    i was so eager to read your blog about our dedicated team as we just love every minute spent with you all! I would like to add a little dimension to your description because I regret that our labor intensive week didn’t allow you to really get to know many of us!

    You describe my beautiful Vinnie, who for as long as I have known him has remained firm in his determination to get to LaCarpio. Vinnie was given a full scholarship to pay for his trip but decided to donate it and “earn” his way instead. Vinnie convinced his buddie to do the same and then convinced his brother to do the same! Vinnie is one of a graduating class of 250 who knew that part of his last summer at home before college would be spent
    on his hands and knees distributing shoes to the children of L.C. His knowledge of scripture may reflect an education lacking in the substance others have recieved, but Vinnie is my “angel” and is the epitome of those who really answered a “call” to serve in LaCarpio!

    For me, there are many young “angels” among the team of “New Yorkers”……hmmm….let’s see….21 year old Andrea who traveled in the ambulance with her beloved grandmother who died on the way –not two weeks!! –before her trip to L.C., but went anyway. Then there is my darling Jen, who’s family has suffered unspeakable hardship over the last two years but remained firm in her determination to get to L.C., ever since I first mentioned it to her when she was in the sixth grade. She is 21. Then there is Irie, whose 20 year old sister died last year and who, with her family has committed to honor her life with support for the girls of the refuge.. Did you get the chance to chat with the Crispinellis (76 year old mother and two daughters, devout followers, btw) who also suffered the unspeakable loss of their 20 year old daughter and have made such a difference with building and help in Haiti,Jamaica and now LaCarpio in honor of their beautiful Stephanie? I know you had the good fortune of getting to know my beautiful 17 year old Bryan, whose Mom died in his arms last winter when the ambulance couldn’t get thru a blizzard. Isn’t he extraordinary??

    These young people are my angels as well as my role models, following a deep, extraordinary and genuine call to serve. There are so many more stories about this team of New Yorkers that would feed your faith in the “call” that many are blessed to receive. Would love the chance to tell you a few more!

    Thank you for your lessons Megan…..The news IS good! praise God and his mysterious and subtle ways of drawing us close to Him.

    Love you.

    • ticameg Says:

      Dear Anne,

      I’m glad that you had time to read my blog, and appreciate your feedback!!! Truly, I loved hearing a little bit more about the people on your team. I realize I was not with them throughout the week (for me, it’s “almost” like the TOMS distribution never happened!!), and maybe next year, I will see some of you again and strengthen friendships!

      I have to admit, I was surprised by the defensiveness that came across in your answer. My goal in writing that blog post was: posing the question to myself, and the church at large–who states their purpose is in following Christ and the Bible, yet seems often to fail in explaining the gospel in clear teams, for I have seen so many people coming out of church environments (Roman Catholic or Protestant denominations) who do not realize that the core of the gospel is our sinfulness and God’s gracious mercy toward us in paying for our sins through Jesus’ death and erasing completely our pasts.

      Yes I used the Somers team, because that night was amazing. I had been asking God all that week for chances to share with those on your team, but I never could have dreamed up such an opportunity to share with others the plan of salvation– the rescue plan God instigated from the minute Adam and Eve sinned in the garden, freely offered to every man and woman. And as I talked about my job, our ministry, our purpose, Vinnie kept asking more and more questions about my faith. And the 4 girls on the other side of me (Andrea, Jen, Irie, Lily) were also quiet, listening to our exchange, instead of starting up other conversations. Even Lynn and Michael started to lean in and listen as well. I hope you don’t think I’m bragging…I admit that is one of my bigger character faults, but in this case, I was astonished by how interested they all were, that the questions they asked I was able to answer with Bible passages and they were beginning to understand some of those Scriptures…God truly was directing the conversation, and they were genuinely wanting to hear more–in particular Vinnie and Michael right in front of me, because they could have changed the topic at any moment and I wouldn’t have forced anything on them….

      I liked knowing some more of the “stories” of each of your people, and I celebrate with you the hard work and sacrifices they have demonstrated through past and present volunteering. And yet, the Bible makes it very clear that none of us will get to heaven on our works alone. Because the reality is, for every good thing that we’ve done, there are thousands of sinful words, deeds, thoughts that would condemn us, for the wages of sin is death. Believe me, I don’t count myself as a better person than those on your team; you would reel backwards in horror if you knew some of the things I’ve done (am often still doing). Because in the end I won’t be let into heaven ahead of this one or behind that one because of my merit… actions will be weighed against the righteousness of God. And I will fall short (such an understatement). Because James 2:10 says “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.” Which means that I can behave myself my entire life long, but for one time that I disobeyed my parents as a child, I’m doomed.

      It sounds harsh if I say that, harsh to condemn another person. But I didn’t say it, God did, over and over in the Bible. Vinnie understood that, I know he did, because when I told him about that verse, his immediate answer was, “You mean we are all going to hell?” And I was so glad for his direct comment, because it allowed me to say, “Yes, all of us. What a horrible thought! God, the only perfect one, is the only one who deserves to be in Heaven. So, to remedy this great problem, He sent himself. And whomever believes in Jesus as Son of God, and who accepts that they cannot make it into Heaven themselves but believe that his sacrifice really did atone for their sins, will gain eternal life. But it’s up to each person, it’s their own choice. Although it’s a free present, God won’t force anyone to accept it, Nor will I.”

      I’m no better than Lynn, Andrea, Jen, Irie or any of those travelling with you! I truly hope my post did not imply that. I have been given grace, and I want to offer that same grace to others. Christ calls us ambassadors of the good news. That means I’m a messenger, meant to share with all people the abundant life that Jesus offers. I fail when I do not tell others about God’s free salvation–and believe me, I’ve failed many times–because it is not a given that they have already heard it before. That’s why it was exciting to sit and talk with those young people! That’s why I asked in my post, where are we? Why are we sitting comfy in our church circles, instead of reaching out to all with the one medicine that will cure their mortal wounds!

      My sincerest desire and ongoing prayer is that each one of your Somers people that heard the gospel that night chooses to believe in Jesus Christ as the ONE Savior for their sins, that his death ONCE and for all washed us clean, and that we will receive the joys of eternal life WITH GOD, by asking him into our lives.

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