Deeper in Faith
Must Be Nice
by Lori Torrison
I’m looking at my Facebook news feed. A pastor friend in the United States just posted pictures of their church sanctuary remodel. It is gorgeous! Everything is shiny and new: sparkling chandeliers, up-to-date media and projection system, and a lovely stained glass window. I can almost smell the new carpet. I think to myself, “Must be nice.”
I glance down my news feed to see pictures of a mission work in the mountains of Panama. The sanctuary has a tin roof, clearly visible because there is no ceiling. The windows have no glass or screen, just decorative concrete blocks for air and light. The floor is unfinished cement, no tile.
They do have a sound system…one speaker and a microphone. During services, it is cranked up to full volume—partly because that is the Latino way—but mostly because they know people sit in their homes around the church. Those people, at least for now, would never consider darkening the door of the church but strain to hear every note, every word, wondering if perhaps the people in that tin-covered, concrete-block building have what they so desperately crave.
And I am not sure how to feel.
I know that for my pastor friend, and most others in my home culture, remodeling the sanctuary, or building a bigger, better fellowship hall is not extravagant. It is the norm. It is the necessary means to reach a culture zooming ever forward with i-this and smart-that, and further away from the “little, brown church in the vale.”
But in my heart culture—the one I have come to love despite frustrations; the one my children were born into and will always carry with them—I feel jealousy. Anger. Bitterness.
“Really?” I think. “I’m sure you got the best deal you could on that new rock wall in the children’s center, but you could have built an actual wall here instead. Four of them, in fact!”
Must be nice.
Just before my high horse breaks into a trot, a still small Voice brings to mind some other posts that crossed my newsfeed recently. Maybe in an African village, someone looks at my page and thinks, “Really? Clean, running water? Must be nice.” Someone in Iran says, “Really? Your church has never been torched after you’ve been beaten and dragged to jail? Must be nice.” Someone in China, who sneaks to a secret meeting in a basement lit by a single bulb, where they dare speak only in whispers, says, “Really? REALLY?”
Must be nice.
Suddenly I don’t feel jealous or angry or bitter anymore. I am reminded that my mission has little to do with buildings, décor, and comfort and everything to do with sharing the good news that one day my Panamanian brothers and sisters will join a multitude from all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues in the most extravagant place of all. And we will all sing glory at the top of our lungs. Forever.
Will. Be. Nice.
About the Writer: Lori and Steve Torrison were appointed as career missionaries to Panama in July 2004. After assisting Stan and Brenda Bunch with a new church plant in Chitré, they moved to Penonomé to work with a Panamanian to plant a new church. Learn more about Free Will Baptist International Missions.