Tuesday, May 09, 2006

All I know about him is he is 40

Today I had something really interesting happen to me... I was going for a walk and this man was hobbling down the street toward me. I had two thoughts cross my mind, "should I help him?" and "is he some tricky con artist waiting to attack me?" So I decided because my Japanese is poor and I was alone, to pass him by. (I know you're thinking good smaritian I am not, right?)
And he cried out, "suimasen" which means "excuse me"

This was proceeded by a half an hour conversation where he asked me repeatedly to help him and I said that I couldn't. I just couldn't help but feel that something was out of place and that something was weird. I didn't feel safe letting him put his arms around my shoulders so I could carry him to his car... yet, it didn't feel right letting him hobble by himself. I thought of the angels unaware verse... and the good smaritian story... And I'm pretty sure I screwed up but I did what I thought was best... I called my friends to pick us up in their car, and as we waited he, in broken Japanese, proceeded to tell me what a LOSER he was because he had to ask for my help. It was so sad. Seriously! SERIOUSLY! Sad.

All I know about him is he is 40 and has a problem with his knee... he thinks he is a loser because he is old and injured. His life is worthless now. He told me that. And I couldn't even communicate with him or share God's love with him... He just kept asking for my help...

And what a freak show I am. I wouldn't even give it to him... I kept thinking that I would get attacked or that there was something suspicious about him. I totally HATE this. Ya know, usually I am so quick to trust and especially when I first arrived in Japan... and then I ended up getting hit on by a pick-up artist... so ya know, tough girl act. I refuse to be tricked... and I probably just let this helpless man dive deeper into his depression. He said what a "surprise" I was and he was so glad to have met me...

He just kept saying "thank you" and "i am so sorry" in Japanese over and over again. When my friends arrived he was too embarassed and wouldn't accept our help. So we drove away...

I totally blew it. Why do I regard my life as so much more important that I wouldn't even help him? I kept praying, "God if this is an angel... if I am supposed to trust Him... please intervene. Please forgive me for not being more trusting..."

Have I become hardened and uncaring? As all my compassion been spent? I beg for God's mercy cause I really don't know what I am doing in this country...


JoPappa said...

Because you are cautious you want to condemn yourself!?

Because you are only a vessel and not The Power To Save you want to feel unimportant!?

What did the Good Samaritan do that you did not? The most profound thing he did was to stop. You stopped. You got help.

Your Japanese may be poor but it is now better than ever before - and good enough for God to use to get help to this man when no Japanese was there!

He cried out, "suimasen" which means "excuse me". Was that when you hurried on over to the other side of the road? Oh, that's right. You didn't do that.

You listened for half an hour as he asked repeatedly for you to help him and you explained (as best as you could) that you would be best able to help him with your friends.

You are a Godly woman: you felt that something was out of place and that something was weird; you didn't feel safe letting him put his arms around your shoulders so you could carry him to his car...

Were you really planning on carrying this man to his car!?!?!?!?!?!!!!!!!

Pardon me while I laugh off my proverbial donkey ... I can just see you carrying this guy down the street.

I may withdraw my monthly support if you keep up this ego-trip.

You think you screwed up by doing what you thought best ... and you called your friends to pick both of you up in their car.

Then, as you waited, in broken Japanese he poured his heart out into your broken English ears, and you understood enough to know that he felt himself a LOSER because he had to ask for help.

Let's see now: you've gone to Japan, not to preach, but to live a whole new and non-western, unprejudiced expression of the love of God for the people there ... ... and - let me get this staight - you feel bad because you didn't share The Bridge with him???

How can you say that you couldn't even communicate with him or share God's love with him , and that you are some kind of freak show?

You wanna see a Freak Show? Jerry Falwell would have given this guy a Freeking Jesus First Gold Pin to hang on his shirt. That's a freak show!

What you are suspicious of is the inept way we have of "communicating God's love" in a verbal, academic way. And you are right to be suspicious about that.

You wonder if it's enough for God to use if you only stop, listen, care, and get more help than you can give yourself!? Remember Matthew 25? What good is a cup of water? A visit? They are certainly not as impressive as a sermon on the street to a hobbling old guy. But that's not what he needed.

I thought Mother Theresa was your hero.

The one thing I know about this helpless man is that he did NOT dive deeper into his depression.

No sir, san. Not if he said what a "surprise" you were (what did he mean by that!?)... and he was so glad to have met you... (why on earth, if you only were a "freak show")... and just kept saying "thank you" and "i am so sorry" in Japanese over and over again.

This was no angel. Angels are ministering spirits sent to help those who inherit salvation. They don't come like Della Reese to play some kind of charade game to see if we can guess who they really are.

Deception is not God's deal, Joanna.
God isn't interested in deceiving you.

This man came to you as God was leading you, and of all the things you did not do, you did not 'blow it'.

When friends arrive and he will not accept the help he has been pleading for ... well, something else is going on.

One sure sign of a person who has become hardened and uncaring is that they stay to the "other side of the road", and trot on down their merry old way, never once allowing their conscience to bother them about what they left behind.

You didn't trot away. He did.

But you can bet your boots on one thing: he will never, ever forget you or the kindness you showed him in just listening - and trying to help - and that he refused.

jamie said...

amen dad schupbach- that was awesome! i couldn't have said it better!

Keith said...

Thanks for sharing Jo!

It can be a crazy life here in Japan can't it.

Last night I couldn't sleep and kept praying for my ability to be a light to my friends Tae and Biw. That I would resist my fears to think that they only want to know me to somehow get to America in the future.

Today I got to spend the afternoon with them both and at one point Biw joked with another Thai student that I was her boyfriend.

My flesh was crying out. "I'm not trying to date her! Am I wrong to be hanging out with these friends???"

But after reading your experience (and thanks to your dad's great remarks) I stand confident that much more is going on through our time here in Japan than our eyes see.

Even when it doesn't seem like we are making an impact. Even when it seems we've "messed up".

My heart was still heavy as I came home but as I read through Psm 119 I saw over and over again how David cried out to be taught and how he battled arrogant mockers.

I thought who is arrogantly mocking me here in Japan???

Then it hit me just how much satan is battling against us. How much he wants us to think were are freak shows, and useless to the Lord.

Lord make your face shine upon us, your servants in Japan. Help us to see your Truth and feel it deep in our souls as we battle the lies our eyes see and flesh feels!

Joanna Kay said...

Um, wow! Thanks guys! Thanks Dad. Thanks a million. I just feel so inadequate here... I can't do all the things I feel are "normal"... like helping people, talking to people, and sharing the "normal" steps of faith with people. I know this is NOT normal and just part of American culture... but as I am broken of these lies and culture that is not Heavenly... I am still confused and wandering... yet, not truly wandering while He is leading me.
My friend Hannah pointed out that by meeting him we were able to pray for him, just by meeting him. Thanks for reminding me of the bigger things that are going on around me.
Also, Dad, thanks a million times a million for reminding me of my Mother Theresa comment. I remember saying that in HS and being teased beyond belief by my classmates.
I need His strength to remember who I am and Whose I am... Thanks for helping me become more and more that.

Kelli B said...

I'm amazed...just blessed to read this dialogue. You all are blessings...

Mr. Schupbach - thanks for being a truth-speaker. It's refreshing to read.

Joanna, you are so cared for! You are being watched over and guided. What a blessing that your family and mentors can still help you walk along - even though you are thousands of miles apart. PLEASE know that you are not alone...though physically it's reality, spiritually - you are never alone.

I love ya girl. Glad to walk beside you (you knwo what I mean) through your adventur.