Sunday, February 11, 2007

The Chicago Missions Trip

So, it's been a bit more than a day. Anyway...

About a year and a half ago, I went on a Missions Trip to Chicago as a leader with the highschool group from my church back home. Since we're only an hour from Chicago, a lot of the kids weren't really that excited about it. It was a "Level 1" Missions Trip. That typically means a number of things. One, it's safe for the majority of ages, certainly for any high schooler. In other words, we won't be working with people that are seriously ill or dying and it's in a relatively safe neighborhood. Two, it's in-country. Three, there isn't any expected Spiritual Being involvement. Not like in, for example, Cambodia. Yes, I know that sounds odd, maybe even stupid and unrealistic.

Anyway, the Missions Team that went to Chicago was a fairly small one. As I said, I was a leader. So were both my parents and my sister. Their were 4 guy students and 9 girl students, the youngest had just finished junior high, and the oldest had just finished high school. The guy:girl ratio was terrible, but it has been since my sophomore year of high school.

In any case, the week went smoothly, without any too-large surprises. That is counting the police officer who was at our site telling us that us white kids shouldn't be there. I can't honestly tell you that that was reassuring. But we already knew we were in a slightly dangerous area and should keep our eyes open for kids with guns and knives.

On Sunday, a woman stood up in church, claiming she had a "message from God" which she delivered to us in a "foreign language," which she then translated for herself. First of all, I didn't see any Biblical basis for her usage of Tongues. In the Bible, tongues were used to give a message from one group of people to another group of people who spoke a different language. So, for example, some friends of mine were in Thailand on a missions trip and they went in groups from house to house, passing out tracts and being friendly with people. The tracks were in Thai. None of the group spoke Thai. However, my friends went to a person's door, and one person stepped back, while the other person introduced herself in English and then gave her the track, and then explained what the track was, in English, with the help of hand motions. What she didn't know, is that she wasn't speaking English. She was speaking Thai, or so we think, because when she went back to my other friend, the friend told her that she hadn't understood a word of what she'd said, but the man at the door was waving good-bye to them, tears in his eyes; having carried on a conversation with her. That is much closer to what the gift of tongues looks like in the Bible. Tongues is not a secret language between you and God. Tongues is used to further God's kingdom, and was particularly useful in Bibilical times, though not so much now.

Being something of a linguist, I was skeptical, simply because of the way it was translated, among other things. My youth pastor, something of a linguist himself, was also rather skeptical, and as the two of us have bases in completely different language sets, were rather surprised that neither of us caught even a word or two, or recognized a pattern or heard her repeat specific words or sounds. It's something you naturally look for after a year or two of a language. It bothered me, but not to the point where I had anything to say about it. Then, the female pastor from the other church stood up, tears in her eyes, excited about the message; at which point I wanted to scream. (The two of us hadn't exactly hit it off. This was just one more strike against her in my book. It's hard to get on my good side if you start out on my bad side. That's not a good thing.)

Our last day in Chicago, we got ready like we had all of the other days. That day, we were cleaning out the church that we'd been assigned to help. I had a feeling that something bad was going to happen. I wasn't the only one. Pastor Terry told us that he had a bad feeling as well, and several of us (with me as the "small group leader") had a change of plans and spent our time praying instead of cleaning.

We went to our work with our kids, where I'd actually thought something bad would happen. (Pastor Terry was definitely imagining kids getting shot and someone dying.) Instead, it was an amazing day. Several of the kids put their faith in Christ. Several of the boys, who had been hanging around playing basketball with our guys (those black guys trounced us. They thought it was hilarious) simply because there little brothers/sisters were at our meetings prayed with my little brother and all of them accepted Christ. Ken wouldn't let them leave until he'd talked with them. God had told him to talk to them. He says it's like a pressure to talk to someone; but that he always knows that it's not just a feeling, or a normal pressure.

That night, we went by lake Michigan and sat and had our final "night together" looking at the Chicago skyline. Both of the church groups were there. While we were sitting/standing and singing/talking/sharing, a number of other people were around. One was a woman who was drunk off her butt, talking to her bottle. There were soldiers.
Pastor T wanted out. We left the first chance we got while the other group stayed.

When we got back, the leaders and the boys searched the church. Pastor Terry thought something was inside. I knew nothing was. On entering the building, a thought, clearly not my own, said, "They're not in yet." Our kids without the gift of discernment thought it was ridiculous.

We went outside, and a few of us went and bought some ice cream and stuff at the grocery store down the road, when the other group came back. Now, while we were in a comparitively safe neighborhood for our area, the idea was to not draw undo attention to ourselves by running around and screaming like wild animals. The second the other group stepped off the bus, they were running around, screaming; much like wild animals.

I got my girls back to the church, and as we went inside, Pastor Terry didn't even have to ask me, he looked at me, and I knew what he wanted to know. I nodded. Yes. The idea was gone. They were inside.

Pastor Terry gathered those of us with discernment together and we made another run of the church praying through all of the buildings. I busted a bunch of the girls from the other church who were planning on getting even with us over the ducttape thing the night before. I told them that if I caught them up past lights out for ANY reason, that they would regret it. Pastor T gave me a free-for-all.

It sounds silly, on paper, I know. But we came to the door of the sanctuary, and I couldn't go in. Neither could Josha. Nor Jeana. Nor my brother. The words, "Put your hands on the door," made all of us jump backwards. Once in front of the door, the blackness behind the door took up all my concentration. Finally, Pastor Terry managed to convince us to all put our hands on the door. We prayed. It went away.

I took my girls and we prayed in a circle around our sleeping area, walking around the youth pastor from the other church because she was sleeping already, and we didn't want to wake her up.

I went and stood by my Dad, and we talked for a few minutes. Then, he said, "Robin, go stand over there, on the other side of that card table."
I gave him an odd look, but did as he directed. Nothing by Dad. Something on the other side of the card table. I must have walked back and fourth five times. Nothing. Something. Nothing. Something. It was terrible. Not to mention weird. (I ended up busting those same girls a couple of hours after lights out. They woke up the wrong youth leader. They didn't even ask to go to the bathroom.)

The next day, we came up with a working theory of what had happened.

At the Lake, the other youth pastor went and talked to the woman talking to her bottle. When she came back with the other woman, she was louder than normal, and more emotional than normal, and attracting lots of attention. We think the drunk homeless woman was possessed, and that the other woman (with us) unwittingly invited her in; which is why when "they" came in after the other church returned.

It was a weird week.

Of all the people I know who have the "gift" of discernment, I don't know anyone who wants it.

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