Tuesday, October 21, 2008


A few months ago I went to Infusion (our ministry to Somalian refugees in apartments in Clarkston) with our missions pastor, Mark. When we arrived at the apartments there were about 30 kids waiting for us to show up and they were excited to see us. As we walked up, they surrounded us and walked with us to the area where we meet and play with them. One of the kids, Muhammad, made his way through the crowd and began talking to us...then, to our dismay, Muhammad began hitting Mark in the crotch. Okay, we were officially freaked out! My first thought was that someone had sexually abused him at some time because when I was 10 I would have died before doing that to a grown stranger...or anyone else for that matter! Bennet, our liaison in the apartment complex quickly explained that this was a tribal behavior and how to address it. It worked, but I was really uncomfortable with what had happened and immediately had some doubts that I was "called" to this particular people group. It's interesting how we can sometimes use the term "calling" as an out from situations that make us uncomfortable or into situations that we are comfortable with.

When I was asked to consider leading Infusion in Clarkston, my first and only reservation was Muhammad. It sounds silly now as I write that. Anyway, three weeks ago we showed up for Infusion and Muhammad was there. He was disruptive, rude, annoying and loud. He continually hit other smaller children, splashed water on our workers, he took one of our worker's glasses and threw them across the play area...it was a nightmare. As we tried to get everyone settled for some teaching time, our friend Muhammad was a constant disruption. Finally, I pulled him aside and told him that I really wanted him to be there, (lie) but that if he continued to have problems that I would have to ask him to leave. He looked me in the eye and said, "I won't leave!" so I got right in his face and firmly said, "Yeah, you WILL!"...to my amazement, he walked over and sat down and listened to the rest of our lesson...I was shocked. Right after that we served them some snacks and I called Muhammad over to help. I gave him an empty box and told him that if he could pick up all the trash I'd give him 5 bags of Cheez Its. Again, to my amazement, Muhammad did an excellent job cleaning up and he received his reward. As we packed to leave he gave me a high five and headed home.

Last night, he was glued to me. I found out last week that both his mother and father physically abuse him, they yell at him rather than speaking to him and his father is very distant...when he's not hitting him. He was like a completely different kid last night. He did have some moments, but he sat right down beside me and actually listened to the lesson. As we sat there, he put both of his arms around my right arm and his head on my shoulder as he listened to the story of Joseph. Again, my comfort zone was BLOWN WIDE OPEN! In our culture, guys don't do that with men they don't really know...or with guys they DO know. (In Africa this is not unusual behavior for boys or men) But the Holy Spirit reminded me that this kid is SO hungry to get attention and that he needs to see how God loves him. So I sat there with him until we were through with the lesson. Honestly, it was amazing. This kid who was one of the main reasons I didn't want to do this is being knitted to me by God. It's very humbling because my attitude was, "I'll go, but I'm NOT going to deal with this Muhammad kid God, he's your problem to deal with!". I can see God smiling and saying, "Really?". Last night when it was time to go, I went to give him a high five and he asked for a hug. He also wanted to know when I was coming back. This is nothing less than an act of God. I'm excited about what He is doing and what He is going to do in and through us in Clarkston.

So that's the latest from Infusion, God is building relationships and connections in the least likely places. And my training in bridging the gap between Believers and Muslims has given me a new comfort level in interacting with the people of Clarkston.



Alan Knox said...

So... Is God using you to teach Muhammad about love? Or, is God using Muhammad to teach you about love? Isn't it amazing how much God teaches us when we're willing to give just a little?


Brandon said...

Yes, He is teaching us both about love. And He's also teaching me that He loves people that I, quite frankly, do not...yet. I'm glad He is more patient with my weaknesses than I am with the weaknesses of others.