I regularly teach various target groups about bringing the gospel of the Kingdom and being light in the darkness. That is a very nice thing to do, but sometimes I get an uncomfortable feeling. Most of the people I teach have a job in society or are at school. For me, I live, work and move in a Christian bubble. It sometimes makes me feel like I have no right to speak.
Since I do not intend to look for a job outside the bubble, I chose to become a member of a tennis club a few years ago. I used to play a lot of tennis and I enjoyed picking up the game again. Now I could have chosen to rent a job every now and then, but I thought it would be a good idea to consciously become a member of the association. This includes obligations such as periodically taking care of the canteen service and participating in the after-hours after a competition match. It often surprises me how many beers are consumed during an evening like this. Let me put it this way; the calories that have just been consumed during exercise are more than compensated by a number of teammates during the follow-up.
Name of Jesus
Although I am quite introverted by nature, I must honestly say that I find it a relief to speak to people outside the Christian bubble. Even though the name of Jesus is mentioned at least as often on the tennis court as during an average worship service I attend, some encounters are very special and valuable. No spiritual open doors or cliché answers to vulnerable life questions for a while.
Explaining the bubble
It sometimes gets a little awkward when I have to explain what kind of work I do. How do I explain to someone who has nothing to do with the church why young people from all over the Netherlands come to Drachten every year to attend a training school internally for a year because they want to deepen their faith. That they are willing to set aside a year for this and want to invest in it. The question I often get is whether it might be problem youth that I work with, since they need to be trained. I feel that I have to explain my bubble to people outside that bubble.
Recently, during the aftermath of a league match, I had a special conversation with a teammate. He googled my name because he wanted to know more about what I do for work. He had discovered that I speak in churches and he thought that was special. The man is a beautiful, authentic, foul-mouthed (deep) Frisian, who likes to talk colorfully about what he has been up to in the past. In short, someone I would not easily encounter in my bubble.
He sat a little closer to me because he had an important question for me. He started talking about some special events in his life. For example, he was at a funeral of his cousin. During the ceremony at the cemetery, there was a white bird of prey that looked at him the whole time. When the meeting was over he flew away. He experienced that as very special. A short time later he was on holiday in Limburg to tour there with his convertible. He decided to go to Margraten to visit the military cemetery there. While he was walking around there he noticed that it was raining in one place. It was dry everywhere except that place. Because he thought it was such a special event, he went back to this cemetery the next day. Much to his surprise, it happened again. Again there was rain in one spot, while it was dry everywhere else.
He had tears in his eyes and he said, “No matter what others say, I’m sure this is something from above. There must be more between heaven and earth and I think you can tell me what that is.” I told him that I believe there is a God you can have a relationship with and that I also believe that these events show that God is looking for him and calling him. He said, “I would really like to talk to you about this. Would you like to come and have a cup of coffee with me soon?”
This has nothing to do with evangelization strategies, but with real encounters outside the bubble. I could have chosen to stand up to swearing tennis players or make a statement against alcohol abuse, but that is language from my safe bubble. Meeting people without judgement, having fun with each other and listening to each other’s story, ensures that God and his Kingdom are discussed in a natural way. Fortunately, God does not care about bubbles that we have created. He is also outside the bubble and I even get to know Jesus better in how He shows Himself to a teammate who is not (yet) a believer.