March Update

Posted on by Alex Mathew

Many Christian kids never take the gospel to “hard places” or the nations because their parents don’t want them to! - Will Toburen

As a first generation immigrant, I grew up in a very protective home. Our lives were carefully centered on education and faith in Christ and activities with other Indian Americans. As an adolescent, Easter was a memorable experience. It was the day that I wore new clothes to church, took countless pictures with all my friends, and got home just in time for a great meal with my entire family.

This year, my Easter was very different from the one of my childhood. I stayed up most of the night before, preparing a message for incarcerated youth. On Easter morning, I did not care what clothes I wore since the youth around me didn’t have a choice. I headed to the local juvenile detention center, where I led three services and took no pictures.

The fellowship I have on Easter Sunday has changed over the years. I know my parents did not ever plan for me to lead a youth ministry in prison, but I am thankful they support and pray for me daily.

Many Americans strive for safe and secure lives. It is the dream of most parents for their kids. Even in the church, safety is one of the strongest American Christian idols; just look at where many of the larger churches are located. But, when I read my Bible, none of the individuals God used – especially Jesus and the Apostle Paul – were ever concerned with their own safety. The world we live in is obsessed with safety, and many of us are held hostage by our fears. Our family chose not to have a television more than six years ago because we don’t want to be driven to fear our own inner-city community or the students in detention. I would rather discover the beauty of my neighborhood and the unique gifts of each one of my students than be set up to fear them.

Jesus comes to liberate us from fear. If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it (Matthew 10:39, NLT). According to Jesus, there is a cost to the resurrection. The fear of death has no stronghold on us anymore as believers. No matter what happens in politics or in the news, God is still good and God has not left us.

The more I pray, the more I sense that God is not calling me to be safe, but to do his will. In my opinion and through reading God’s Word, I have found that the dangerous place for me is comfort and safety and being insulted by the pain of this world.

This Easter, we celebrated that God left the comfort of heaven to join the pain and sufferings of this world. At the core of the Easter message, we have to move toward the pain of this earth. My wife and I moved into a neighborhood of high crime, and I work alongside high-risk youth because Jesus moved into the neighborhood that people said nothing good could come out of and ministered to the highest risk individuals in all of Jerusalem.

I pray that the story of Jesus infects all our lives in such a way that every Easter looks a little different regarding who we worship with and maybe even a little less safe in where we worship so that we can have a more helpless dependency on God. The true gospel of Jesus comforts the disturbed and disturbs the comfortable.

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