Pendo lives right next door to our church in Igekemaja. She is a relative of one of our faithful church members. We've visited and shared the gospel with her several times my first term, but she has remained a faithful Catholic. But a very friendly one! She always waves with a big smile when I drive to and from church. I hadn't stopped by to visit since I've been back yet so today was the day.
She of course was thrilled that I had come. (Even though she was in the middle of finishing lunch for several men, over a open fire while keeping track of 2 little kids- I love this part of African culture! Everyone seems to be overjoyed that you've come to visit them, and for the most part I think they are!)
When she had finished she came and sat down right in front of me. She was rarin' for a good chat. :-) We caught up on the news from the past year. She had had another baby. I had been home because my mom had gotten sick, but she's much better now. I teased her for not even once visiting our church by acting very hurt.
She laughed and asked, "So you think I should leave the Catholic church?"We had been friends for awhile now, on the friendly surface level anyway. I and several others (fellow villagers) had witnessed to her several times. I decided it was time to shoot straight with her.
"Well," I said, "there are several teachings that are typical in the Catholic church that simply aren't from the Bible."
We went back and forth a bit, and then I said it again, "The Catholic church teaches things that simply aren't true." She perked up.
"Like what?" she asked.
"Like, it's good to pray to Mary because she's sinless. And that there are a list of 7 things to do in order to get to heaven."
She chattered some more and somehow changed the topic. The blessing of being a white foreigner is that there are many open doors. People love to talk with you. The downside is that they want to ask questions about America, and how much plane tickets are, and,... and,... and.I answered her questions (so I wasn't completely rude) then said... "But you know there's another trip that's absolutely free! And the destination is glorious, greater than any place on earth. In fact it's not on earth!"
"Oh, you mean heaven?"
"Yes, do you know if you're going?"
Oh, the infamous answer. The answer I hear more than any other. The answer that just must absolutely grieve God's heart! "Good works"Again I knew it was time to shoot straight. "You know, most people measure themselves that way. They have this imaginary scale. Sure they've done some bad things, but they've done mostly good things, so they're all right. But Pendo, God doesn't measure things that way. He sees the bad things. Even if there's just one small sin, one little lie. Just one thing and God says, no. He can't welcome that person into His home because He's holy. Just adding more good things doesn't help because the bad thing is still there!"
"So what do we do?" Finally, I had the attention of her heart. God was working.
As I shared the GLORIOUS good news of an amazing LOVE, men from the church started to showing up. One after another til there were 4 men sitting there listening (and hopefully praying!)
When I finished Pastor Pele added his thoughts. After we talked some more and prayed we were heading off to another house when Pendo pulled me aside.
"So, one day you need to come and pick me up and take me to your house in the city."
Oh, Lord? Did any of it sink in?