It was dark in the tiny apartment living room, except for the florescent desk lamp, cocked upward to face the room’s occupants like an interrogator’s light looking for answers.
If it was seeking out the truth, it found it. The room was full of it.
It was full, period.
Leaving their shoes in a neat heap at the door, barefooted people packed in the place, sitting reverently on mismatched furniture provided by strangers before the apartment’s residents ever set foot on American soil. A few spoke English well. A few spoke it somewhat, others not at all.
All spoke Nepali.
Just months ago, they were refugees, living on the border between Nepal and Bhutan until the UN decided to bring them to Georgia.
“We say we don’t have citizenship anywhere — we are citizens of Heaven,” 27-year-old Suresh says. They were Nepalese, then Bhutanese, then American. They were refugees first. Then believers. Then disciples.
And now disciplers.
Bill — a Georgia boy — faced the small group of Bhutanese believers, his head silhouetted by the desk lamp, and began to share with them the story of Nicodemus, the idea of rebirth, the glorious climax of John 3:16. They knew going in that they would hear this sermon three times — re-preach it themselves, even. Bill told it to them, and Suresh translated. Then Suresh taught it himself to the group in impassioned Nepali. Then they all helped retell it a third time.
The repetition wasn’t just for good measure.
Sarita, Suresh’s sister, would be teaching it the next night in the home of a Hindu priest where two women had recently accepted Christ. Suresh also led a house church for Nepalis. Two others in the room taught groups of their own.
And in the small, fledgling group of believers, there was still need for one more tonight.
“We’ve had the opportunity to have another Bible study in someone’s home, and I want you to be praying about whether God is speaking to your heart about you being the one to lead it,” Bill said.
What if church was always like that? If we listened to the sermon with the intent that we’d be repeating it to others later? If more than half the people who came to church went out and led churches of their own after the service was over?
“What did you learn from the story of Nicodemus?” Bill asked them.
Suresh said he thought the story would speak especially to people with Hindu beliefs, who might have burning questions inside like he used to before he met Christ. Questions like how, if people have to buy things to get right with their hundreds of millions of gods, how poor people could ever afford to get to god? Could Jesus, who loves the whole world, be that easy to get to?
A young Bhutanese boy raised his hand and, pointing at the desk lamp, said, “I learned people live in darkness until they get in the light.”
Bill broke into a huge grin. I couldn’t blame him.
It’s a dim apartment – but the Light from it shines pretty amazingly bright.