Our speaker last week, Mati Gali, is a missionary from Samoa who has been working in Brazil with street children for over 20 years. His stories were incredible and greatly increased my faith. His way of thinking, as a Samoan, also challenged my American way of thinking and Western worldview.
Mati explained that when you go to kids on the streets, it is like you are in their home. Would you like it if someone went into your home and told you what to do, or how to behave? When we go to the streets and try to tell children what to do, it is like we are doing just that. Street kids, he explained, sniff glue and fight. Those are 2 main behaviors they have. It is not appropriate to go to the streets, hang out with them, and try to change their behaviors there on the street. You need to convince them to leave the streets (after a period of time, and after a relationship has been built) and then provide a safe environment for them to change and be disciple.
Mati waited until Thursday to start even talking about street children. The first 3 days he talked about missions in general, and our God-given calling. It was in these first few days that God challenged me the most. Mati talked about the great life he has back in Samoa. He would easily be able to make money with his family trade, he would have a stable income, his city is very safe, and he would be with his friends and family. “Do I miss home? Yes,” he said, “but it’s a decision I make to follow God every day.” I think a lot about my future and raising a family and having enough money to be a mom, and a missionary. When I talked to Mati over lunch about my fears, he said, “You have to know that God is faithful and will always provide. The Bible does not say this path is easy, but God does promise to never leave us.”
After this week, I have been asking myself many questions about my own life. Am I called to work with street kids? Will I start taking in kids when I get to wherever God sends me? How will God provide for me & my future? Is my “wise” Western thinking about money biblical? How much of my culture do I hold on to, and how much should I let go of to effectively minister to kids?
I have lots of questions to ask God, and He has my lifetime to reveal to me the answers.