Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Cult Classic

One aspect of ministry that is extremely difficult here in Lithuania is that most (if not all) students that we talk to think that we are part of a cult or "sekta" as they call it. This is because we say that we are a Christian group instead of Catholic group. We have repeatedly tried to explain that Agape is ecumenical in nature, (Catholics and Protestants together), and that we partner with the Catholic ministries here and that they love what we are doing. We even have documents from the Archbishop of Vilnius saying that we are a good organization. But despite all this, there is a stigma among students against the church in general and especially against anyone who isn't Catholic.

A story to illustrate the issue.
There was a time when we went to the dorms to talk to students and I was with a Catholic Priest who is the Chaplain over Kaunas Tech University. The two of us were talking to some girls in one room and one of the girls said that she thought Agape was a cult. The Priest explained a little about the Reformation and told her that we also truly follow Jesus even though we are not under the Pope. An interesting thing happened at that point. When her judgement was confronted she chose to tell the him that he probably wasn't really a priest because was too young, even though he had his clerical collar and clothing on.

All this makes it tough for students to be a part of Agape. They are warned by their friends and family to not hang out with us or come to any meeting we might have. Some are even ridiculed if they do come.

But, I believe that many students see something different in us - something different than the church they think they know. They see life and people who want to really follow Jesus instead of the norm of just attending a church service on Christmas and Easter. Ultimately they see Christ, His body of followers who are trying to love Him and love the people God has put in their lives. It seems like God up to something lately. He is bringing students in contact with us who don't heed the warnings of their friends. Students who just want to find out the answers to the big questions life throws at them. Students who see faith displayed in love. Students who are beginning to desire a genuine relationship with God.

Please pray that they would respond to His call by devoting their life to following Him.

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