Nothing Grows In A Swamp

We had a talk amongst our ministry team today about how our summer went. We all had fun in the park, but we all agreed that the ministry part did not go very well. We all cited difficulty in relating to the employees at the park.

It’s one thing to have conversations with atheists; it’s quite another to try to break through the hatred of Christianity so many young people seem to harbor. It’s one thing to preach about (and even practice) virtue; it’s quite another to tell those whose every night involves getting intoxicated that they might want to think about cutting back.

I truly have no idea how to relate to people like this. I don’t know how to bring up the Gospel to a petulant alcoholic, let alone the existence of any higher power. I had a great time living in Olympic; I enjoyed my job, my friends, the hikes, and the drives. There were bad times, certainly. I’ve neared my wit’s end more than once this summer. Still, it was excellent overall.

My regret is that I could not do more to evangelize. I tried to invite people to our services. I tried to talk to people about god; not even Jesus, or the triune God, just small-g god. And I mostly failed. Of course, it isn’t my job to convert anybody. That’s up to the Holy Spirit (thank God). I only wish I could have done a better job of ministering to the truth of the Gospel.

It could have been much worse. My team leader told us some of her team members fell away from the faith in her first and second seasons. As far as I know, none of my team members have abandoned their beliefs. We just failed to meaningfully introduce them to anyone new.

The title of my post comes from the movie Silence, a film about 15th Jesuits in Japan. In an attempt to convince the Jesuits to stop evangelizing Japan, the emperor told them, “Japan is a swamp. Nothing grows in it.” I’ve certainly felt this way about hosing this summer. However, I still have a month left here. Perhaps as the season winds down and fewer people are in housing, I will have greater opportunity to connect with those who are left. Maybe some of them are afraid to talk to us for fear of ridicule. Maybe they’ll warm up to the idea more if there are fewer of us to talk to.

Whatever the case, I pray that we touched one life this summer. If that is the case, and I suspect it is, that will be enough.


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