Elisa’s been working part-time tutoring student athletes in French, Italian and English composition, both to supplement our income and to use some of that brilliance for languages she possesses. She’s been loving it, but one student in particular has stood out to me in the stories she’s told to me. For the sake of the anonymity, I’ll call him “Ray.” Ray is a large, African-American athlete that Elisa’s been helping with French (and he’s been improving a lot thanks to her adeptness), but she’s also been acting as kind of a mentor for him. Recently, Ray shared with Elisa about how he comes from a small, poor community in the South that is almost entirely black, and so, growing up, he was pretty suspicious of white people. Until he came to college, he didn’t believe that any white person could actually care about him. But when he came to Mizzou, he saw how much the directors of the center (and tutors like Elisa) care about him and want him to succeed, and his whole way of thinking changed. He told Elisa that he wants his 14-year-old brother to come up to Columbia to visit so he can see what it’s like, that there are people in this world who care about him, even if they’re different.
That’s a good image of what it’s like to become a Christian, especially for international students. Most of us live in a world that we can’t imagine could be any different, like Ray’s brother. But then Jesus breaks in and says, “See, this is how the world was always meant to be!” One of the best things we can do is to present people with this alternate way of seeing things, a way that many have never imagined.
Art by He Qi, a Chinese Christian
We talked about the Samaritan women at the well last night in Bible study, and I could tell that Jesus’ love for this woman who’d become a pariah in her community for her sexual promiscuity was something that offered a radically different picture of the world for them. For most of them, even those who have made decisions to become Christians, Jesus is only just beginning to crack the veneer of their previous way of looking at the world. Though the cracks are small, the light is shining through, and the light will prevail.
Jesus breaking through