Monday, April 4, 2011

Sweden Stories Contd...

Happy Monday everyone!  And it's time for another Sweden story. 

A huge way that we meet people on campus, both in the States and overseas, is through a tool called "Soularium."  It is an "Art and Spirituality survey" in which we use set of 50 photographs to ask and answer questions about life and spirituality.  We approach someone, or a couple of people, ask if they would be willing to take the survey, and if they say yes, we ask the following 5 questions:

1) What 3 photos describe your life right now?
2) What 3 photos describe what you wish your life was like right now?
3) Which photo best describes your view of God, or if you don't believe in God, which photo describes why not, or what you do believe.
4) What 3 photos describe your spiritual journey up to this point?
5) What 3 photos describe what you want you spiritual life to look like?

It's amazing how a few simple questions can really cause someone to open up to you, and how willing people are to talk about deep things, if only given the chance.  These are great questions to start spiritual conversations in a nonthreatening way, and we are often able to follow up with deeper questions and conversations that really get to the root of different perspectives, worldviews, issues with God, past emotional wounds, etc.  We are also often able to share the gospel in one way or another as a result of Soularium.  I'm a big fan of it!

So now that you know about Soularium, on to my Sweden story! 
I was with an American girl named Krista, who has been in Sweden for 2 years, doing Soularium on one of the campuses at Uppsala University one day, when we approached a group of 3 girls.  We told them who we were with, asked if they would participate in the survey, and they said, "sure!"  When we took out the photos, one of the girls said that she had done Soularium this summer with one of our summer project groups who had come over for 6 weeks from the States.  She stood up, said something in Swedish to the other 2 girls, and walked away!

I wasn't sure what to make of that, but hoped she was leaving just because she'd already done the survey.  Later, Krista told me that she had told the other girls that we were going to talk to them about believing in Jesus Christ, or something along those lines.  The other 2 girls decided to stay and participate in the survey though, so we proceeded to ask the 5 questions.  I noticed that Krista wasn't pushing too hard into deeper questions, so I followed her lead.  After she told me later what the other girl had said, I realized that she was trying to show the girls that we were open to conversation and hearing their thoughts and ideas, and weren't just talking to them so we could add another "convert" to some list or something.

When we were done with the 5 questions, however, one of the girls asked, "So what do you believe?"  WOW!!  It's amazing that she would ask that question, especially given the fact that the other girl had already told them that we're Christians and were going to talk to them about Jesus.  This was such a clear message from the Lord to me that if we are faithful to seek opportunities and initiate with people, HE is the one who will direct the conversation and work in people's hearts!  So we began to very simply share the gospel with her, when she stopped us and said, "So, is this God personal?"  Krista and I both somehow kept straight faces, but I pretty much had to stop my jaw from dropping!  "YES, I said, that is the most important thing about Christianity, that God desires a relationship with us more than anything else."  We were able to share, in a few sentences, about how sin broke that relationship, and the reason why Jesus is the center of Christianity is that His sacrifice paid for that sin and restored the relationship between God and man, if we believe in and follow Jesus.
We didn't get to share very long before I could tell that they were ancy to leave, but they thanked us and didn't seem too weirded out ;-)  The thing about Sweden, and really, about sharing the gospel anywhere, is that you and I don't know where someone is on their journey toward the gospel.  This could have been the first time in that girl's life that she had been told that God is personal, and that He desires relationship with us.  That is a HUGE step toward acceptance of the gospel.  So my prayer is that one day I will see that girl in heaven, and I will be able to hear the rest of her story - the other people who were put in her path, and to see each of the steps that led her to the feet of Jesus.  And how amazing if I get to be a part of one of those steps?!  And all because He moved her to ask what we believe, and if the God we follow is personal.  He really works in pretty awesome ways!