Posted by: Don Linnen | 30 November 2016

Idol alert

I’d been warned that I may encounter idol worshippers on this mission trip. Sure enough, on the second day a woman told me she had been raised as a Catholic and had evolved to worship idols. She politely listened as I explained the gospel story then nervously told me, “my idols are all I need.”  

I didn’t believe her, but didn’t argue. My translator, Luis (a pseudonym), and I thanked her for her time, prayed, then moved on from the maze of Soviet-style apartments. We chose to walk. 


This small, poor town was filled with large, dreary apartment buildings and a wide array of very small homes and new businesses. Zoning restrictions were apparently never a consideration. Some streets were paved. Many were not. Most homes and apartments were austere but clean. Televisions, if present, were nearly as old as the cars.

On the third day we climbed a typically steep and narrow outer staircase to a small apartment atop a house in another part of town. It was the home of Maricela (another pseudonym) and her daughter. Maricela’s husband worked in another country. As I looked around her apartment, I was shocked at what I saw.

The bright, airy room revealed no cracks in the freshly painted walls. There was no plaster coming off bricks. The new refrigerator shined. The large flat-screen TV sat next to compact speakers and a DVD player. I think to myself: “This is cool. I could live here. It’s got all the stuff I need.”

Maricela didn’t have much time. She had to leave soon for her child’s school. I quickly presented the gospel. She eagerly indicated acceptance in her heart and with her mouth. We visited just a little longer then moved on down the road.

As I followed Luis down another rough road in an unfamiliar town, I gave thanks that I really wasn’t totally lost and began to reflect on my trip. I had to smile at the thought of all the people I’d met and the many who’d indicated their acceptance of Christ. Then my mind turned back to Maricela, her really nice apartment, and the big flat screen. That’s when my smile faded. 

In that moment, I realized I had been on high alert for other people with idols, but for some reason (I no longer believe in coincidences) I had just been led to visit a home filled with my idols – things that gave me comfort and pleasure outside of Christ. 

Yuck. Getting my own come-uppance was not fun. I thought it was others with the problem, not me. What a buzzkill to realize I’m one of the idol worshippers.

I am grateful for the reminder. Sad that I still need it, but glad that I can recognize it. And glad that God still cares enough about me to reopen my eyes.

He just won’t give up on me.

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