Scanning the Faces

Matt_HomelessWe recently walked through the chaotic local city market here in Lilongwe. People were everywhere, vendors were everywhere, and their merchandise was plastered to everything in sight. Our only solace of calm was to look up, but even there the sun was beating our heads back down. On one side a man was screaming into a bullhorn the same sentence over and over again. I have no idea what he was saying, but I know he was convinced that if he just kept yelling that message into that bullhorn someone would come and buy something from him. On the other side a man with just the power of his own voice was shouting out the prices of his goods. Thlee-hundaled-a-dless! Thlee-hundaled-a-dless! That’s my best attempt at duplicating the accent in English for “three hundred a dress!” That’s 300 kwacha, or about 75 cents. Our walkway was lined with individuals holding a few pieces of clothing, each guaranteeing me that I would fit into those pants or that T-Shirt. I reassured them that my huge American self would not fit into those pants or that T-Shirt. They got a kick out of that.

As we were moving through the market, I was noticing more and more faces. Some faces were kind, some proud, others soft, and some angry, but something starts to reveal itself over time, and it’s a look of resentment. Actually, I used to think this look was resentment, but it’s not. I asked a Malawian friend the other day on the street, why people always stare at us. He said, “they don’t trust you.” I was surprised; I guess I always assumed myself to be trustworthy. In the market or on the street, I expect to be the one getting cheated, and it turns out, so do they. This look is suspicion. Suspicion is not deserved, but it’s still there. It’s not unique to Malawi either.

This idea was still puzzling me when we came to a Tuesday morning evangelism time. We were on the street in front of the town post office. I took my stack of blue papers and decided to give one to the meanest looking guy I could find. I was a little nervous. I found a guy and went for it. I was surprised by what happened. He smiled; his countenance changed. He took the paper, listened to what I had to say and moved on. The answer was so simple.

An amazing thing happens when you approach someone with good news. I was worried about people trusting me when all that matters is if they trust Christ. Once again Christ transcends culture.

I believe people desire trust more than people want to be suspicious. To trust is to rest, and the ultimate rest is to trust in Christ.

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