There’s a saying you often hear in my part of the world: “Don’t stop in Browning.”
Browning is the county seat of the closest Indian reservation, on which I taught for three years. There’s always the stories circulating around, stories of bad things that happen to white people when they stay too long. Thus the old canard, “don’t stop in Browning”.
It’s also a saying that my pastor likes to repudiate fiercely whenever the chance arises.
I love it. Thump that pulpit.
It’s a crap catchphrase, for two reasons. One, because it isn’t true. I’d know. I frequented that town for three years, stepped inside its gas stations, supermarkets, fast-food places. Nothing happened. Didn’t get ripped off, didn’t get pushed around. It’s just normal folk looking to live a normal life (without a lot of success). Maybe more people would know that if they stopped.
The second reason is, it’s not a very Great Commission saying.
Jesus didn’t place limits on our destinations for that “ends of the earth” thing. He told us to make disciples of all nations, which usually involves making friends first. And if there were safety concerns…
…well, you weren’t likely to argue with a guy who’d just had his hands and feet pierced bringing light to places that didn’t want it. Especially once he’d risen from the dead.
I’d run into my share of panhandlers and homeless in a town like that (even on the forty-second parallel). If you offered to buy them food, there was about a fifty-fifty chance. Some would accept, grinning happily through a sub sandwich and telling you their life story. The other half would quickly decline and shuffle off. They were obviously after something else.
The point is, by offering, you helped half. All it took was a little resourcefulness, a little brain-pushing, which we often don’t even do. We complain about systems and institutions and government. Is it just a cover for not wanting to lose five bucks? Who knows what eternal doors could be opened through those five bucks?
We’ve got so many poisonous attitudes clouding our evangelistic vision. The only way to vent them is often simply by walking right into them, and doing what we’re supposed to do.
How can you do so today?
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