In this Sermon from Samoa, I share how a difficult situation can bring out the best in us all – a true biblical challenge if ever there was one, and congratulate Samoa for readily accepting people as they are.
I’ve met a lot of people who want to change the world.
Sad to say, Christians are often the worst in this regard, the ones that are in your face rile me up quite somewhat, and the ones who arrive in your country with guns and enforce their way onto others are not really God’s Angels in my book either – the “War on Terror” is more a “War OF Terror” if you ask me. I’m glad you asked!
I actually do not trust people who charge around the world targeting people who are on their hit-list. I’m absolutely certain that they will eventually turn their attention to the genuine Christian believers, if they haven’t already.
But Samoa can teach the world a lot about letting people be, and just accepting people for who they are. We experienced this recently here in Samoa in a couple of ways.
First, I’ve just returned from a few days with a Palagi guest and her travelling companion. They wanted to experience village life, and we gave them a guided tour of a few Village Stays. They loved it, of course, but it was a challenge when we all found out that her mate was to put it politely, a little unusual, socially.
To most people he would be just written off as a dude, one Weetbix short of a breakfast, (if you know what I mean) but a day or so with him and I’d worked out that he had pretty much all the signs of Asperger’s. I’m no shrink, but he’s a nice guy, awkward socially, sticking on the same subject which he repeated over and over again and pretty much unable to measure emotional situations around him. He had a whole bunch of the classic symptoms, as well.
He really needed to have every thing just right, and non-threatening, or his stress levels would rise and he’d flip out. Plus, he really needed his daily warm shower – um . . . in rural Samoa in the middle of a drought?
I thought that we were in for a “hell” of a time on the road and wondered why on earth someone who has a condition like him; who as he says himself “likes his creature comforts”; eats the same food every day; and can’t handle new relationships easily came on a Village Stay experience in Samoa! But he did.
Home stays are all about engaging with the people, experiencing challenging and different lifestyles – all in other peoples’ homes. Taking a guy with Asperger’s into rural Samoa with a whole bunch of Hosts who were only just starting out doing the Village Stay thing was not really a situation that I relished.
It was a big challenge, but I have the patience of Job and have had previous experiences that prepared me for it all. So we survived – just!
But in the midst of the challenge, something quite magical happened – once people understood the situation, they all poured out a lot of love and understanding, especially towards the guy with the issues. We all survived the experience, and even had a memorable time for all.
Good one Samoa!
Secondly, we stopped in to the Bahai Temple and also coincidentally met a couple of Bahai people out at an island resort. Bahai people are known for their peacemaking and inclusive approach to religions. In some ways it really is quite refreshing not to have people out to change you when it comes to religion!
The Bahai worship services are inclusive – of all the major religions. This includes Christianity in its religious form of course. Quite how it is possible to include the entire bible into an ecumenical soup, when Jesus laid it on pretty thick that He was the only way to the Father, I can never fathom, but include Him they do! I hope for their sake that I’m wrong and that including Jesus alongside the others and accepting Him as just another prophet as they do will cut the mustard at judgement day. My bible says otherwise, but the Bahais certainly accept others as they are, I must say.
He’s a stumbling block to many, that Jesus character, He is! Jesus mixed with some real losers. He seemed to have a knack for finding the down-and-outs of the society He lived in and also for turning things upside down. He still does, by the way!
He’d find a local prostitute for example, have a word or two with her and she’d reform on the spot. He hooked up with a tax collector once – these guys were well recognised as the financial crooks of the day – and the next thing he was putting the figures right before he’d parted company with the Master. He’d wander into the midst of social outcasts and cast out their illnesses with a command to the invisible forces behind their troubles, then merrily wander off with a trail of happy healed people surrounded by consternation from the religious leaders and doubters of the day.
The remarkable thing about Jesus though was not so much the miracles of healing and deliverance, but the way that Jesus didn’t seem to have a problem accepting people where they were at either.
I know that our recent guest gets stick from those in his own community, being teased and rejected for his differences. Few would understand him and many would cause him enormous difficulty because of his issues, but over the last week, I’ve watched as our tour guide in training accepted and loved a difficult client just as he was, then helped and encouraged a whole bunch of other Samoans and Village Stay hosts to do exactly the same. Day after day, visit after visit, I witnessed a mixture of good, genuine Samoan hospitality with compassion for a guy that was “just a little bit different”.
Quite godly really!
Well done Samoa.
Now, would you now just kindly extend that grace to me and accept me too?