Xtreme Spirituality – Part 6?


Guest Blogger: Art TerKeurst

A few years back I got a real wake up call from two boys with a third world country faith. Lysa and I (Art) were introduced to a group of Liberian orphans here in the states singing together in a boy’s choir. These boy’s were traveling and singing for primarily two reasons. They were singing to educate their audience on the needs of the other 5000 orphaned boys and girls within their orphanage, and because they too were orphans and needed a mom and dad. Well two of those boy’s are now TerKeursts. We adopted them. Early on I looked at their adoption as a way in which I could teach the “boy I never had” with all of the life lessons welled up inside. Yeah right! It was the two orphans from Liberia teaching me about life. One of the greatest lessons I have learned from these two young men is a whole new perspective on what often makes the rest of us spiritually passive.

You see Mark and Jackson weren’t anything close to passive in the way they viewed life. I would have never entertained the thought of their faith as passive or apathetic, or even the least bit neutral had I really known them in the orphanage (or even in the first months within our home). It wasn’t long; however, before the spiritually passive American way began to creep its way into the boy’s everyday life.

You see we do things a little different here in the states when compared to your typical orphanage. A day in the life of a Liberian orphan consisted of two things. First and foremost, ‘survive another day,’ and second, somewhere along the line ‘get your one bowl of rice with a half dollar sized piece of chicken on top.’ Faith and a daily walk with God was “real”, so real that it was all you knew. On the contrary here in Anywhere U.S.A., we introduced a pantry full of food, sturdy brick homes with security systems, fast food on every corner for the times you aren’t standing near the pantry, restaurants with the all you can eat concept and, like a bucket of ice cold water, it hit them, we aren’t in Kansas anymore! My boy’s began to set back and all of a sudden “Life is good!”

The honeymoon period, as they say, has ended …

and now, my wife and I spent the first couple years helping them readjust (read here, believe) that all of this is for real and not going to come to an end at any moment. But we’re also battling an entirely unexpected opponent, apathy. That’s right, can you believe it? How in the world could these kids ever become apathetic. They’ve basically died and gone to heaven. What could be better?

Well, here’s the incredible lesson God taught us and I hope you, the reader will see it as well. The reason my boys started battling indifference about nearly everything, even spiritual matters was because they slowly began to realize that nothing here in the states is truly a matter of life and death. Here in the

US, one could almost believe we’ll live forever. We’re probably just a few easy inventions away from becoming our own gods. For those of us who have grown up in this country we can’t even recall when the apathy set in, for my two boys, on the other hand, it happened so fast you could almost see it! To help you understand how much easier they were as victims to this plague of indifference than you and I, let me relate a short story to help you see their world a little more clearly. Around that same time (a couple years ago) I took the boys the other day to see Spiderman II. They sat there awestruck¾hardly said two words throughout the entire movie. On the way home it was pretty quite in the car until

Jackson spoke. ‘Da?’ this is their word for ‘dad’¾ they talk fast, and putting that extra ‘d’ on the end of the word just takes far too much time. ‘Where does he live?’ Jackson asked. ‘Yeah, where does he live,’ Mark chimed in. ‘Where does who live,’ I asked. ‘Spider Man? Where does Spiderman live? I’ve never seen him, so it must not be Charlotte.’ ASIDE: Incase you’re wondering, the answer is ‘YES,’ of course I asked them if they were serious, but the truth is, I really didn’t have to. I knew my boys well enough to understand from the tone in their voices that they were very serious. The movie seemed real to them, the special affects were real affects as far as they were concerned, and now (as I could see now where this all was headed) they were looking into the possibility of meeting their web spinning hero. Well, we got past this (although, in the end they may have simply been trying to pacify me) and they no longer seem to believe that Spiderman is actually real. But again, I realized through this that these 14 and 15 year old boys are coming from a culture where their innocence and wide-eyed way of viewing the world is the equivalent of an average 6 year old. So, when they run head on into a culture of pessimism, sarcasm, high tech, make believe, their common sense does not take years to short circuit.

It takes months!

Now they realize that they truly have not died and gone to heaven, but rather they have arrived in a post Christian, low morality, ethics absent, me first culture that very quickly comes up short as the ultimate utopia it purports to be. And, as the old saying goes, you certainly can’t beat them, so they’ve decided to join them.

Starting to see it?