Today marks three weeks in London, England. I can’t believe how quickly time is flying here; however, at the same time it feels like this place is becoming another home for me. I know where things are, can (occasionally) give directions, and have felt like I have a sense of place in this bustling city. In only a few days we’ll be half way done… crazy!
Not the weekend that just happened, but the one that happened before that, a past intern (Natalie) took us to South hall, another borough in London that is known for housing a large amount of the Indian population of London. We went there to we could see other places of worship. Religions have always been something fascinating to me and I enjoy learning about others’ beliefs. The experience ended up being harder than I imagined. The first place we went was a Hindu temple. Upon entering we took off our shoes and proceeded inside to a big, open room full of statues of different Hindu gods. There was a man reciting prayers at one of the gods and people worshiping and praying to the gods on the floor. You could purchase milk and fruit there to make a sacrifice or an offering to the gods if you wished. We were allowed to look around, which ended up being pretty difficult for me. John 14:6 says, “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’” It’s clear—the only way to God is through Jesus. That is something that other religions cannot fulfill. We were encouraged to observe in the temple and then pray, so that’s what I did. After the Hindu temple we went to a Sikh temple. The Sikh people are known for being very peaceful and hospitable, and it showed upon entering. Everyone was so friendly and they offer shelter and food for anyone who comes through their doors at literally any time of day. The day we went to observe worship there was a wedding going on; however, the altar was still at the front. Under the domed building there was a book (their holy book) that was being fanned by a man. People lined the aile up to the book to give offerings to the book and then sat on the appropriate side (men on the right, women on the left). There was a man who walked the book praying all the time, unless the book was in its “asleep” (for lack of a better word) state.
One thing that was interesting to think about while in these places was how others would perceive these places of worship. Our friend Natalie said that every time she has gone in the Hindu temple that we went to, the people have always been eager and excited to tell visitors that it was in an old Baptist church whose congregation had fizzled out. The Sikh temple was located near a church. The Sikh temple always has its doors open and a meal for all who enter, whereas the church has its doors closed. What kind of message does that send to the outside world? For me, it was just a further testament to the spiritual deadness in this place. People don’t know the Truth here. Seeing people worship something that isn’t true, that will do absolutely nothing for them besides get them an eternity of hell, put an urgency in my mind for missions. These people are souls that, if they don’t confess Jesus as Lord, will have an eternity of torture. I really long for these people to know Jesus, and not just for their eternity’s sake, but also because there is so much joy to be had in a relationship with Him. Jesus and the resurrection apply to today just as much as they apply to our eternity. Because of the resurrection we are never alone and we have a God who is in control of absolutely everything, a God who is limitless in power and abilities, we are free from judgment and we have purpose. We are free from sin and death through Christ, now and eternally… what greater gift could we give people than knowledge of a God bigger and greater than anything in this world?
Other than that, this week has been really good. I have definitely been learning that God knows my needs way more than I know mine (which can be hard to keep in mind sometimes). Some days this week have been really hard to want to go out and talk to people, but other times I feel joyful and desire to go talk to others. God has been so persistent in showing me his goodness and his grace throughout this week. When I don’t believe that anything is possible, that conversation isn’t going to happen, He always proves me wrong. He is molding and shaping my heart. He is transforming me “into the same image from one degree of glory to another” (2 Corinthians 3:18).
On Friday mornings we have a meeting to dialogue about the verses we have been studying this past week. This week’s theme has been spreading God’s glory. We took a few minutes at the end of the talk to write down all the names of people that each of us have come into contact with while here that are not believers… a total of 81 names. All of them have different ideas about religion and some of the coolest stories that, for us, are evident that God is working in that person. Upon talking to one we discovered that one of her co-workers is a Christian and has talked to her about Christ. I truly believe that God was 100% sovereign in us forming that relationship and that one day she will be worshiping the Lord as well. Please take a moment and pray for these peoples’ hearts and for our interactions. These aren’t just arbitrary names on a piece of paper, but souls that long to know their Creator.