Over the Easter weekend we had the opportunity to visit many of our neighbors and invite them to join us at church on Sunday and to share the meaning of Easter. It was the first time since moving to Obule that we have gone around to meet with our neighbors with the sole intention of sharing the good news of Jesus. The ladies from our church have been practicing telling the stories of the Bible in chronological order during their weekly women's Bible study. So they decided to go and share those stories with some families nearby. The men hoped on the motorcycles and went around to some other homes and shared The Gospel. After going around for several hours we met back at a friends home.
Some takeaways from our visits:
Most of the folks were welcoming and receptive to hearing us share with them the story of Jesus' coming to Earth as a man, living a sinless life, and dying a substitutionary death for us on the cross, and rising again after three days to make a way for us to receive salvation and eternal life.
Most people were resistant to accepting the free gift of salvation because of baptism they received as a child. Most people that we visited had been baptized as an infant and felt that was sufficient and they didn't need to make a personal decision to follow Christ.
Others who were resistant to accepting Jesus' salvation were living lives that they knew were not pleasing to God, but said "someday down the road I'll make a decision to follow Jesus." Essentially they were not willing to change their lives, but knew that they needed to. Even in a place where the average life span could be considered short, they felt they had plenty of time to make that decision at a later date.
A few folks felt they needed to clean themselves up first before coming to Jesus, or that their sins were too great. I think this is a universal issue.
Also, many thought we were trying to get them to convert to our church (or give up on their current church - even if they do not actually attend a church). We made it clear that we were here to share the good news of what Jesus had done in our lives and what He wanted to do in theirs. We were not trying to get people to switch churches. Still some were skeptical.
Religion is strong and idea of work-based salvation is still the norm in this area. The concept of free and unmerited grace is almost too simple for people to accept it. People feel salvation has to be earned and that God wouldn't just offer salvation freely - this is a big hurdle that folks are still stumbling over. A couple people felt that if they did more "good" things than "bad" then God would allow them into His kingdom when they died.
All in all it was a really encouraging time even though most folks decided not to make a decision to follow Jesus. The fact that everyone was so willing to sit and talk and share openly was encouraging. It was also great to be able to go into people's homes and show them that we do care, not only for their physical needs but also about their souls. A few of the people we met with did come to church on Sunday and hopefully some of the ladies will begin coming to the ladies weekly Bible study. We plan to continue meeting with our neighbors and answering their questions, loving and serving them, and continue planting seeds.