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Friday, August 22, 2014

I Christian

By Cheryle M. Touchton
The Pocket Full of Quarters Lady

I was hot and sticky. Evangelizing in an outdoor mall in 100-degree temperatures is brutal. Evangelistically speaking, it had been a disappointing day. People were too hot to talk. It was my birthday so I splurged by ending it at a nail salon. I plopped down in the pedicure chair, put my feet in the water, and promptly fell asleep.

“Why you in Branson?” I vaguely realized someone was working on my feet and talking so I shook off sleep.

“Oh, I’m sorry,” the nail tec said. “You sleeping. I won’t talk.”

“No,” I said. “I want to talk to you. I do ministry. I travel America and help people meet Jesus. I am staying at the campground next door.”

Her English name was Phoebe. Her Vietnamese name was Une. She was twenty and had been in America almost 3 years. She loved talking but struggled with English. We both just kept repeating things and saying things in different ways until we understood each other. 

“You Christian?” she asked.

“I am. In Viet Nam, was your family Catholic or Buddhist?”

Her face lit up. “We Catholic. In Vietnam, we from south. South more like America and North follow Russia and China. North mostly Buddhist. In Viet Nam, we have 2 ways - God or Buddha. My family follow God. In America, I hear Christian. My friend’s family Christian. I not know difference.”

“Christian means people follow Jesus. Jesus is God’s son. You were taught about God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit?” I made the sign of the cross.

“Yes,” she said, saying the words back awkwardly. “But we follow God. No talk much about other.”

“Christian means you believe in Jesus, have asked for forgiveness of sin and asked Jesus to be your Lord and Savior. Christian includes many religions. In America, we have Catholics, Baptists, Pentecostals, Episcopalians, and others but all are Christian if Jesus is their Savior. Do you know word sin?”

She shook her head and looked confused at the word.

“Sin is the mistakes we make. Things we do wrong.”

“Yes,” she nodded. “My grandmother said demons will make me do wrong and if I do wrong, I go to hell. Buddhists can come back for another life but Catholics go to be with God or to hell.”

“Yes,” I laughed. “Demons will try to make you do wrong but I want to talk more about hell. When you ask Jesus to be your Lord and Savior, he forgives you for your sin and saves you from hell. The word Lord means he is your boss – he is in charge of you. Like the person you work for here. Do you understand?” She nodded.

“Savior means he died on the cross to save you from hell. Jesus doesn’t want you to go to hell.”

“I understand,” she said, her face lighting up. “Woman came to Landing. She had picture. God on one side and me on other. Cross was bridge. I had to walk across. Picture made me understand what you say.”

“I am happy she showed you that picture. I have seen that picture. It very good. Did she pray with you?”

“No, but I think about it. She Christian. She say ‘God bless you.’ She nice. Christians like to say ‘God bless you.'”

“Phoebe, Bible says we all sin. The cost of our sin is death and that means hell. Yes, demons want you to go to hell but heaven is God’s gift to us. All who call on the name of Jesus will be saved from hell – they will be Christian. Would you like to pray and become Christian?”

“My English no good enough.”

“I help you. I tell you what to say and make you understand.” Notice, that I used her simplistic broken English. That was on purpose. I’ve found it helps those struggling with English understand better if I copy their phraseology.

“Yes please!” she said. “Thank you. I want to be Christian.”

We prayed slowly and simply. I stopped to explain words she stumbled over. Occasionally, she would repeat a phrase when she understood it better. As soon as she finished praying, she begin bouncing up and down and giggling.

“You are feeling the Holy Spirit. He came into your life when you asked Jesus to be Savior and Lord.”

“Yes,” she giggled. “I feel Him. I understand Christian.”

“You are Christian,” I encouraged.

“I Christian!” she said, giggling again.

“The Bible calls that getting born again. You have been reborn as Christian. ”

“Wait,” she said. “I get paper. You write word down. Born again. I put in my phone.” She got paper and I wrote ‘born again’ down along with the meaning.

“If the woman who showed you the picture comes to the mall again, tell her what you did,” I encouraged. “God was sending you people to help you be Christian.”

“I will. She come Tuesday. I Christian! I tell her. I say God bless you.” 

“I want picture of you. You are smiling and I want  a picture,” I said.

“Yes, take picture.” She posed. We swapped information so we could be facebook friends.

Phoebe hugged me as I left. She whispered in my ear, “I Christian. God Bless you.”

I felt God sing, “Happy Birthday to you. Happy Birthday to you. Happy Birthday dear Cheryle, Happy Birthday to you.” Was that my mama I heard harmonizing with Him?

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