Amy-Jo Girardier is one of our student ministers at Brentwood. She is one of my favorite people in the world. She is a formidable champion of young women and their development into mature believers. She is constantly challenging the norms set by our culture about beauty, self-worth and success. She is sincere in her own faith as well. Here is a story of a recent trip where she encountered the power of God’s Word to do its work despite the barriers we might build to hinder the Truth.
On a journey with God in illegal territory
A couple of years ago, I had the opportunity to go on a sabbatical. More than anything, I wanted to know what it would be like to be in a place where it was illegal to read the Bible and proclaim Christianity. I decided to take my mother, who had never been out of the country, and a mentor who had known me since I was 8 years old.
Our destination was switched at the last minute because our connecting flight was being blocked due to over 4,000 people who had machetes and were camped out at the airport. So we were routed to another country. As we landed in this Pacific Rim region, my mother and I were told a list of words we were not allowed to use in country. Among those words were Jesus, God, pastor, church, Bible, Christian and missionary. We were given substitute words so we could communicate without calling attention to the fact that we were Christians. We were then taken to our hotel. A recent team had discovered our hotel was bugged, so we were instructed not to speak openly about our faith even in our hotel room. We were to lock up our Bibles and not take them with us when we left the hotel.
I had never had this experience before. It was a wake-up call; suddenly I was truly aware that there was a government who was scared of the power of God’s word on their people.
My mother and I would have our quiet times together. We would pick the same passage and then write questions to each other about what we had learned. We met with different groups of missionaries in different places and learned to pray with our eyes opened. We learned to read the body language of waiters to determine if it was safe to talk around them or if they were able to understand English. It was refreshing to me to know how much my conversation was hindered by not being able to talk about what God was teaching me; but it also was a challenge to lose my “Christianese” habits and find new ways of communicating what God and His Word are doing in my life.
Our mission on this adventure was to take an 8-hour train ride to the edge of this country to meet with a local tour guide who had just accepted Christ on a big red suspension bridge in a particular village. We were to disciple her and help her to know the importance of finding an underground church. The challenge was that we could not say we were Christians; we had to wait for her to bring it up in conversation.
The first day was definitely fruitless. I would point to a Christmas tree and ask about what she knew about Christmas, to which she would respond, “Not safe”. The second day we were assigned a different tour guide, so we just prayed for opportunities to talk with our supposed Christian tour guide.
The third day, my mother and mentor chose to simply hang back and pray continuously for me while I walked with our tour guide. Just when I was about to give up, I noticed a big red suspension bridge.
“I think I heard that you made the most important decision of your life on this bridge,” I said.
Her response was (of course),“Unsafe.”
I knew I couldn’t say anything more about her decision.
Then I saw this hut built on stilts and rocks looking out over a river. I told her that I thought that hut was beautiful, how it was built on rock. She took my arm and said, “It reminds me of a story I once heard in the Good Book.”
To find out more about the Student Ministry at Brentwood Baptist Church, click here.