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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Will the Proud Father Please Stand Up

            Foreign mission work can be tough. Part of the challenge is the language barrier. One story that illustrates this well was sent to me years ago. I regret I do not know the author, but I think you will enjoy this humorous story:

             A new missionary recruit went to Venezuela for the first time. He was struggling with the language and didn't understand a whole lot of what was going on.
            Intending to visit one of the local churches, he got lost, but eventually got back on track and found the place. Having arrived late, the church was already packed. The only pew left was the one on the front row.
            So as not to make a fool of himself, he decided to pick someone out of the crowd to imitate. He chose to follow the man sitting next to him on the front pew. As they sang, the man clapped his hands, so the missionary recruit clapped too. When the man stood up to pray, the missionary recruit stood up too. When the man sat down, he sat down. When the man held the cup and bread for the Lord's Supper, he held the cup and bread.
            During the preaching, the recruit didn't understand a thing. He just sat there and tried to look just like that man in the front pew.
            Then he perceived that the preacher was giving announcements. People clapped, so he looked to see if the man was clapping. He was, and so the recruit clapped too. Then the preacher said some words that he didn't understand and he saw the man next to him stand up. So he stood up too.
            Suddenly a hush fell over the entire congregation. A few people gasped. He looked around and saw that nobody else was standing. So he sat down.            
            After the service ended, the preacher stood at the door shaking the hands of those who were leaving. When the missionary recruit stretched out his hand to greet the preacher, the preacher said, in English, “I take it you don't speak Spanish.”
            The missionary recruit replied, “No I don't. Is it that obvious?” 
            “Well yes,” said the preacher, “I announced that the Acosta family had a newborn baby boy and would the proud father please stand up.”

            We all make mistakes. Part of the challenge in foreign mission work is to accept the fact that we will all commit our fair share of errors.
            Quitting is not the solution. Instead, we need to laugh along with everyone else—and move on. We take God’s work seriously—but not ourselves.

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