Martin LeFevre, TheCostaRicaNews.com
We met at one of the 50,000 Starbucks (5 in this small city alone). She was a Christian from Africa, but she had been in the States long enough not to reveal that until well into our second conversation. Then she lowered the proselytizing boom.
We were having what I thought was an excellent conversation. The subject had turned to cultures and religions, and she asked my views of Jesus. I should have known better to give them.
She listened with that deadpan look that has become so common in this culture, as moribund people camouflage what they’re really thinking under the cover of toleration and calculation.
She was an exceedingly smart young woman, fluent in four languages, and able to translate three (her native tongue from southwestern Africa, Afrikaans, and English) in her head at the same time, though she said it slowed her down. Her English was impeccable, and I couldn’t detect any slowdown.
After meeting in the same place two weeks ago, she emailed saying she’d read one of my columns in the Arusha Times of Tanzania, and wanted to talk again.
Her family had gone from severely segregated in a poor black community in the newly independent nation of Namibia, to an upper middle class white section after her father opened a lucrative business.
I listened enrapt as she spoke of being the only black girl for a few years in an all-white elementary school, and the blatant racism she endured from students and teachers alike. For example, if a student would accidentally rub shoulders with her, she would scream as if touching germs, and try to rub it off. Racist teachers also singled her out for physical and verbal abuse, but she never told her parents.
By the time she got to high school, the mostly black students there said she acted white, and called her an Oreo. My heart went out to her, but alarms began to go off as she spoke of being saved and reborn, first at 15, and then again (“after I backslid”) at 18.
I regretted giving my feelings about Jesus, not because I overly doubted them, or felt sorry for her, but because she twisted what I said, and began speaking as a hard-core believer, not a human being.
The smart, sweet person I had been talking to suddenly turned into a hard, judgmental, and rather ugly preacher. Ironically, we had been talking about whether a person’s culture and background were the primary determinants of character. Or whether, for the majority of people in the world now, culture has become secondary, and our response to the global crisis of humanity is the primary factor influencing our character.
Just then four Muslim women, their heads completely covered, walked in with a little girl of less than two. I’d seen and said hello to them in this Starbucks before, but they kept to themselves, speaking an Arabic language in a lively manner.
The little girl escaped for a moment and walked over, reaching out her hand and saying something to me in Arabic. I stopped conversing, and turned my full attention to her beautiful little face. The Muslim women apologized, I said not to, and went back to the conversation, thinking nothing of it.
But despite the best efforts of her mother and friends, the little girl kept coming over, reaching out and saying something I couldn’t understand, though I did understand beyond her words.
After the third pleasant interruption, I asked my African friend, who had been speaking in increasingly rigid terms about Christianity (saying that only through Jesus could we be saved). Are you saying that this little girl, who will be raised in a completely different religion, with emphasis on Mohammed rather than Jesus, can only know God through Jesus?
She hedged, and began to say, “that’s why there are missionaries.” With that, it was clearly time to go. I shook hands with one of the Muslim women, and touched the little girl’s hand again, and we left, without saying goodbye to each other.
Deadness in the devil is often mistaken for contentment in the Lord.