So I prayed quite a bit; I prayed blessing on this man, on his business, on his real estate holdings. But wait, there's more!
It's kindness that leads to repentance. It really is.
It was at the North-South Korean border. An American military official approached the line, accompanied by one or two South Korean officials. He held a megaphone. Stopping just before the line, he aimed the megaphone over the border and explained that South Korea had found the body of a dead North Korean soldier and wanted information on how to turn it over to North Korea officials. As he spoke North Korean soldiers looked at him through binoculars and scattered about like flies until they finally went inside their building and closed the door.
It is difficult to take it all in. Normally, when you try to talk to someone, they listen, receive your message, and pass the message on. But, the North Korean officials seemed to assume that South Korea had some other intentions, as if the South wasn't saying what the South was saying. That's not to mention that the South had to communicate with a megaphone because no one in the North would receive a simple message.
What was even more startling was how much I kept thinking about communication between different Christian sects and denominations.
In the Church and in America as a whole, communication has a striking similarity. People are suspicious of each other and they don't receive each others' ideas. When a Baptist speaks to a Pentecostal, it is as if each of their friends circle the other with binoculars before silently walking away and closing the door. The only way to talk about even the most basic of cordial concerns is through a megaphone because there is no reception.
By refusing to listen to each other, Americans have adopted dangerous values to a point where North Korean missiles may not be necessary to destroy the country.
But, shouldn't Christians at least act better? Not only should Christians be courteous across their borders, there shouldn't be borders in the Church. It is as if American society follows the example of old-time, denominational, divided "Churchianity".
Unfortunately, the Church keeps the borders they shouldn't while governments don't keep the borders they should. Ironically, removing Church borders and building government borders are equally politically incorrect. Dr. Ben Carson had some words about political correctness.
"...Fix the PC culture in our country, which only listens to one narrative. And if it doesn't fit their philosophy, then they try to ascribe some motive to it... Whenever you are asked a certain question, it has to be answered in a certain way, and if you don't answer it that way, then let's attack. Let's not try to actually understand what a person is saying. Let's just attack, attack, attack. And hopefully, everybody else will look at that and they will realize they're never supposed to say something like that again. That's what the PC culture is." – Dr. Ben Carson
Blame for the nation's division rightly rests at the doorstep of the Church. It's impossible to rule-out that the North-South Korean conflict wasn't influenced by the Church's own division and non-communication. Non-communication is very dangerous. The Church doesn't seem to understand how important the issue of communication has always been. Christians don't even understand what they say to each other, let alone the great dangers that now await them, merely from their refusal to communicate.
So, the Christian and American political scripts are the same: When someone doesn't respond according to the expected narrative, the programmed minions assume that he has some hidden agenda and it is as if they can't hear plain English. continue reading
"Open the door, mate! Please, just open the door."
Knocks continued as I took my shower at the hostel in Ho Chi Minh City, formerly known as Saigon. It's not every day that your shower gets interrupted by a drunken Britt from Birmingham needing to, well, more kindly than he put it "relieve himself".
I knew who the guy was. We had talked recently and I didn't feel in any danger. In fact, danger hadn't even crossed my mind. I have no problem letting a bro into the bathroom when nature calls. I mean, a man's gotta' do what a man's gotta' do when a man's gotta' do it.
"Well, I need a moment." My body was covered in soap and I wasn't about to trudge soap across the floor.
"Please! Just open the door. I just have to take a [leak]. I'm drunk and I gotta' go!"
"Coming." I wrapped my towel around my waist and opened the door.
"Thank you so much mate. Ahhhh..." He probably relieved himself for a good two minutes, almost falling backwards twice.
Again, I really didn't mind letting him in. He had a delightful Cockney Birmingham accent, after all. In fact, so he claims, that driving cap I have was invented in Birmingham and, in his words, "You got to be a Birmie to wear one of those."
How did it all start?
I had walked into the hostel earlier that night to meet Shelly for the first time. She seemed exhausted, yet calm in a charming sort of way. I asked and she told me some of her journey. She had a semi-crazy trip. I'll spare the details, except to say that I asked, "What's a brilliant girl like you doing partying? You should be up at 5:00 A.M. interviewing shop owners, building a contact book, and making a journal of your discoveries."
"You know, you're right, actually," she said.
I gave her the boilerplate advice, which somehow never seems so obvious: Study what you hate, do what you love. It's not always true, but what a resume builder, eh? "I travel the world because I love people, I speak three languages, but I studied accounting and pre-MBA in college to keep myself well-rounded." Who wouldn't hire someone like that?
"I must introduce you to Heather," I said at last. "Heather is from a country right next to yours and she's quite similar. She's traveling with her friend, Brianna, which I can never pronounce to her liking."
Shelly was from central Europe and had just worked for an airline. She told me a story about a tough customer she once had, how airline employees must always wear a smile, even while laying down the law, even while being threatened.
...Airline employees must always wear a smile.
And, that was Shelly. Even after the rough story of travels she had been through, here she was, all in one piece, calm as a cucumber. In many ways, I envy her.
In walked Heather and Brianna. "There they are," I exclaimed. The three ladies got acquainted on the porch that evening in Saigon while I took to the shower. I had an early flight to catch and wanted to get to sleep early.
So, here I was in the shower—kind of—trying to keep a drunk "Birmie" from falling down while relieving himself. "Oh, thanks so much, mate! I'm so drunk."
"It's alright. I understand." We just have to wear that smile no matter what...
I finished my shower and made my way out to the porch to find our Birmie friend chatting it up with the three ladies on the porch. After a minute or two, his other Birmie friend showed up.
"Oh, please," one of the fellas said. "Just a little more massage."
"But, I already gave you three. You're quite relaxed as it is."
"I still want the full massage."
"But, you can't do everything all at one time."
That's very true.
Time to distract. "Jesse, what was it you said you were working on with your website?"
"It was a list of words. Many non-native speakers have trouble with some English sounds..."
"Get off of my bed! I want to sleep!"
"Don't bother Breeann," I say.
"No, no, no! It's Brianna," she corrected.
Her friend piped in. "Yes, there are some sounds that native English speakers have trouble pronouncing in other languages."
This was going to be an interesting evening. I didn't dare doze off to sleep. The drunk boys probably aren't all that bad, but they wouldn't let the ladies be. Worse things probably happen in many other parts of the world, especially in so-called "civilized nations".
One guy playfully tosses Brianna on the bed. She objects with dignity. Heather tries to talk some sense into the drunk, but more as a distraction gimmick than any genuine hope of producing change.
As the night went on, the girls did a rather fantastic job of entertaining the drunk boys. It wasn't for any agreement or to join in their rough housing. There just wasn't anything else for them to do. So, they sat and listened to them through the night.
It began to rain. It stopped raining. The floor got wet. Then one of the boys threw Shelly's bag on the floor—right into a puddle of water.
"You can't throw people's things," I kindly explained.
"But, I want to throw things," he said.
Now, there's an indication of insecurity. The boys aren't really bad, just immature and insecure. That's quite a contrast to the girls with whom these boys quite clearly didn't stand a chance of rounding first base.
"You can't throw other people's things, though. They can break. Now, Shelly is sad."
Watching those girls deal with misfits was a lesson in life for me. I don't know where Brianna and Heather will go with their lives, but I'm sure it won't be a waste.
Shelly sat next to her wet bag, poking her fingers at her temples. Then, she smiled. She was tired. It was 4:00 A.M. Her only travel bag was wet—along with who knows what else inside. With her luck everything was probably okay. But, that's not the point.
In that moment, Shelly convinced me that she did indeed work for an airline. You have to have the patience of Job to not explode in a situation like that.
Shelly, I don't know where you will go with your life, but I'm sure it will be amazing as long as you keep going and, no matter what, keep smiling.
So, what happened to the boys? I couldn't stay around to find out. I had a plane to catch. That's another story of patience all to itself. I'll just say that the memory of Shelly kept me smiling.