Global Reality Check

My husband and I just returned from an amazing trip overseas. I always enjoy the sights, sounds and tastes of different cultures… but hands-down, my favorite part of travel is meeting people along the way.

Some years back on a missions trip to Brazil, a local business-woman expressed doubt that we would be able to “counsel” people from a different country. She was convinced that Americans and Brazilians had too many differences, thus rendering any advice we might give, irrelevant. We didn’t argue with her, simply saying, “Well, I guess we’ll find out.”

Later, as we met with many married couples and individuals, we heard described (albeit in another language) the exact same kinds of situations that we hear weekly in Lancaster, PA. Yes, there are cultural idiosyncrasies among different people groups which present some unique challenges. But the basic struggles of human relationships are identical around the globe.

We found it to be true again on this trip. As we chatted with folks we met, from taxi-drivers to entertainers, to billionaires, it was obvious: people are just … people… with similar hopes and dreams and frustrations and fears. And we were struck anew with the longings of all of them for love and joy and peace and fulfillment… all things that can only truly be satisfied by their Creator.

Between the poorest beggars on the streets to the most sophisticated world-travelers, there were two blatant similarities… a desire to love and be loved and a craving for some sense of significance for their existence.

I think Jesus hit the nail on the head when He told the young rich guy that life’s top priorities are to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength,” and “to love your neighbor as yourself.” When these are the guiding principles in a person’s life, those universal cravings somehow get taken care of…. not surprising really since the One who designed humankind understands best what makes folks tick. As I’ve told my children often: Jesus’ way of living is absolutely the best way to live… always has been, always will be, world over!

Now we’re home again. Laundry needs to be done, e-mails caught up, appointments scheduled, jet-lag vanquished. I’ve found myself lamenting, “back to reality!” But the truth of the matter is we never really left reality behind. It travelled with us. It stared back at us from the faces of Greeks, Italians, Australians, Philippinos, Cambodians, Brits, Portuguese and Brazilians. We heard their “real” concerns in their conversations. We saw the pain of their personal realities on their faces. And if we could observe all this… how much more does their Creator see it and care!

So, I’m freshly thankful that I get to do what I do… i.e. help people deal with the real issues of life, by pointing them to Jesus. I’m glad to do it in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. And if once in awhile, I get to do it on vacation, in places like Europe or Asia or South America… well, I’ll be happy to deal with that reality too!