Set Apart in Santa Monica
As our church family continues through the OUTFLOW series, we asked Emily Bowman to be a "guest blogger" and she graciously agreed. Keep reading to hear how God worked in and through her this past summer...
This summer I had an eye-opening experience while attempting to act out my faith in my workplace. I was part of a mission trip to Santa Monica in which one of my requirements was to find a job for the summer. I landed a job at a clothing store in a popular shopping area called The Promenade. From day one, my manager and fellow co-workers knew that I was a Christian and were aware of my purpose for spending the summer in Santa Monica.
I’ll be honest, some days I wished that I didn’t have a huge sign hanging over my head reading “Christian”. I despised the giant rift I felt between myself and co-workers whom I so badly wanted to connect with. I struggled with wanting to love them like Jesus does but at the same time wanting to be accepted by them. If God taught me one thing this summer it was that it is okay to feel set apart. In fact, he worked in more powerful ways when I was uncomfortable and feeling like an outcast than I believe would have been the case if I were comfortable and trying to control when and where I talked about my faith.
One co-worker in particular stands out when I think back to the hardships I endured while attempting to establish relationships with the intention of evangelism. Naturally, with the “Jesus Freak” reputation immediately given to me at the store, he was super standoff-ish for a good three weeks. He whispered his weekend stories to the other co-workers as I walked by, leaving me feeling awkward and outcast.
One day, this co-worker started asking me questions about my faith. I was hesitant to say more than I should for fear of scaring him off but I really felt the Holy Spirit leading me to elaborate and be as honest as I could with him. Surprisingly, he took our conversation really well. These conversations began to happen more and more often until one morning I got to share the whole gospel with him! During my last week there, he asked me to pray for him. Although he did not receive Christ, I witnessed this kid peeling back layers of himself to me every day. He shared how Christians have said hurtful things to him in the past and how that makes church undesirable to him. I listened and tried to understand his point of view. One day he asked me, “Emily, do you think God loves me as much as He loves you? I don’t go to church every Sunday like you and I’m not perfect so I don’t know why he would want to love me.” I got to tell him just how much God loves him and how He does not measure His love for us by works.
It’s hard to live like Christ in places that are dark and especially places where you aren’t exactly receiving a warm welcome for being a Christian. Without light shining in dark places, some people may never get to hear the gospel. I am guilty of too often assuming that nonbelievers don’t want to hear anything about God. Being obedient and bearing Christ’s name might take a couple stabs at your pride and it might affect your reputation. However, since Christ endured trials for you and me, why should we not strive to do the same?
“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it.” Mark 8:34-35