By: DeAnna McEntire, CDH10
Do you ever feel like you don't belong?
Last year I had the opportunity to study abroad in China for five months. It was simultaneously the best and hardest thing I’ve ever done. It pushed me completely out of my comfort zone and forced me to rely on the Lord in ways I never had before. I was so far away from all my friends and family that Jesus was all I had to give me strength, encouragement, and comfort.
I was extremely homesick after having been there for only two months and frequently found myself day dreaming about the day I would get to go home. I dreamt about the moment I would walk towards my friends and family in the airport and be welcomed back to a place that’s familiar and comfortable. I was incredibly thankful to be in China, but each day I was constantly reminded that I was a foreigner in a different country and didn’t belong to the culture.
I was sitting in class one day, day dreaming with this picture in my head. I saw myself walking towards the gate with my luggage and breaking into a run as I see my friends and family for the first time in five months. I begin crying and hugging everyone and as I was thinking about this moment in real life my eyes began watering. I could already feel the joy I would feel when I really was reunited with everyone I love.
As I was sitting in class imagining all this, not paying attention to my teacher, I was suddenly overwhelmed by the comparison of this reunion to our reunion as believers with our Savior in heaven. Just as I was a foreigner in China, I should also be a foreigner in this world constantly dreaming about the day I get to run into the arms of my Heavenly Father. Even though I was adapting to life in China, there was definitely no hiding that I was from another world. Everywhere I went people stared at me, talked about me, and pointed at me because they knew I came from a place they hadn’t seen and could not understand. In the same way, it should be obvious to those around us that we, as Christians, don’t belong in the world.
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:2
If we are truly changed by the Spirit and are of the Spirit then there’s no hiding our difference from those around us who can’t understand where we come from. Since it was obvious I was different, people would also frequently come up to me and ask questions about my ethnicity, home, and family. I love my home and family so much that I couldn’t stop myself from talking about them and sharing them with Chinese friends I made. People were drawn to something they had never experienced or seen before and wanted to know more about it. In the same way, if Christ lives in us and we shine His light, people will be drawn to us and will want to know what makes us so different. Because of our love for Him, we won’t be able to stop ourselves from talking about Jesus and sharing Him with others.
And if the thought of being reunited with my friends and family after only five months brought me to tears, how much more should the reunion with my Father cause me to weep with longing for Him. If we truly love Jesus more than anything else and desire to be with Him in heaven, then this moment should be something we cannot even get out of our heads.
My encouragement to you is to embrace those moments when the world makes you feel like an outsider and remember that we, as Christians, were made for a different place and the earth is not our home. We should want everyone to know the joy we have that can change the lives of those who have never heard the gospel.
“If the world hates you, know that it hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of this world, therefore the world hates you.” John 15:18-19
Since Jesus chose us, we no longer belong to the world but instead belong to Him! Think about that. We should be honored by the times we feel different in this world because it means we belong to Jesus, have the opportunity to share the gospel with others, and will one day be reunited with Him forever.
While I was in China I would sit, praying and wondering why God called me to a place that was so difficult for me to adapt. Now I know one of the reasons was so I could learn truths like this one. If I had never had this experience I never would have been able to understand this concept. Through this experience in China I finally understand a fraction of the kind of beauty that will occur on the day we, as Christians, are brought home to be with our King.
About the Author: DeAnna McEntire is a graduate of Appalachian State University, earning a major in Global Studies and minor in Chinese and Teaching English as a Second Language. She served on Crossroads Summer Camp staff for the first time this summer, and has joined the Crossroads Discipleship Home (CDH). She serves the ministry as an Event intern and recently launched her Mary Kay business.