How I Had to Take My Faith Back to Scratch

It came out of nowhere.

Beyond the culture differences, the food, the jet lag, the transition…

Beyond the noises and smells and unknowns…

Beyond having one baby, and then going through another pregnancy in a new country..

Beyond having to take all that I knew Back to Scratch– cooking, cleaning, LIVING.

I faced one of the biggest challenges of my life during our first term. I didn’t know how to share my faith. And isn’t that the WHOLE REASON we moved overseas??

We found ourselves living in a village during language school, surrounded by classmates that came from another walk of faith that is different than ours. When it comes to the fundamentals, we held different beliefs. But we both called ourselves by the same name. “Christian.” No longer could I use that old familiar word to identify myself. I was at a loss. I knew I was different, but didn’t know how to explain it.

I had to go back to scratch. I had to dig deep within my heart to discover what made my faith REAL and then find the words to tell others.

One day, a new couple from Holland came to our school. After living near the same people for a couple of months, we were excited for new friends. I explained that I was on my way to Bible study, and I would love to eat dinner with them later to get to know them. “Bible study?” she said. “Are you….?” She also had no words.

We looked at each other. We both seemed to understand that we were in a “Christian” place that didn’t have the same heartbeat of faith like we did. Time seemed to stand still for a minute.

And then I said, as simply as I understood it, “I love Jesus.” She breathed a sigh of relief, realizing that there was at least one other person in this community whose faith was rooted in the same Savior. We became instant friends.

And that is it, in a nutshell. That was the beginning of my journey to find the fundamentals of my faith, so that I could share it with others. But to share my faith, I had to understand it.

The next very clear time of soul-searching came when my middle son was two years old. He is extremely bright, and has always been very inquisitive. The conversation somehow got around to Jesus being in my “heart.” He declared he wanted to take Jesus from my heart and put Him in his own. As I tried my best to simply explain that Jesus died for all of us, and that there was enough of Him to go around, my son continued to ask “Why?” I would give him an answer, and he would ask “why?” again. If you do this, you will find that you have to go back to the basics, and I realized that I had never really thought through the theology before.

Asking “Why?” will inevitably take you down a road to the source, to the beginning, to scratch. 

I’m thankful for persistence of my son, because I have learned to strip away the Christian culture, the lingo, the traditions and carelessly-used phrases, and now I understand the basics.

When talking with children, or with people of another culture, there is a whole lot about “Christianity” that gets in the way. It boggles and confuses and sometimes (just sometimes) can turn people away from what matters.

Jesus is what matters. And Jesus loved- all peoples, all races, all children, all His children. When I took my faith back to scratch, Jesus was there. He always was. He always will be.



5 thoughts on “How I Had to Take My Faith Back to Scratch

  1. Thank you for sharing! I’m also discovering more and more that, particularly in a cross-cultural context, ‘Christian’ is a loaded term. Defining and explaining what I am and what I believe is more helpful than throwing out a one-word label. I needed to hear that today too, since people ask me what I believe and I can easily cop out by saying “I’m a Christian.” Since most people here consider themselves Christian, that’s not very helpful or explanatory. “I’m a follower of Jesus” followed by “what do you believe?” is a little more helpful.

  2. Thankful you shared this. A few weeks ago I had a similiar soul searching experience when having to answer some how’s and whys with one of my children. It brought me back to the simplicity of the gospel of Christ. So thankful for Jesus, who is enough.

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