On the subway in Santiago, I was forced to confront a set of ideas no one wants to meditate. For the second time in a week I was faced with a problem many of us want to ignore. Suicide. Our train was stopped. Society was forced to recognize the suffering of one of our constituents. Someone nameless had brought the lives of thousands to a standstill by throwing themselves on the line in front of us. I was told by my guide this is a regular occurrence in Santiago. But this was not the first suicide that week I was apart. On the second day in Valparaiso I had gone to a funeral for a young woman who had perished.
On Monday in Valparaiso I attended a funeral for a woman of the Gonzales family who lived in the neighborhood of Pastor Juan Pablo my team member in Chile. The family was not part of the Church he presided. And like many people in today’s urban sprawl, this family did not have a regular Pastor to offer the hope of the Gospel over their daily lives. Plain and simple most of us are unconcerned with the Body of Christ in its many forms until we are confronted with death.
On Friday what felt like an eternity but only a few days later here I was on a train in Santiago. Wondering how now we were going to be able to continue our commute. I was trying to not think about the inconvenience to our plans as we learned it may take up to a half an hour to clear the tracks. And instead was rapt to the idea that I was a part of someones death and I did not even know their name. As mentioned before this was a regular occurrence.
It is a regular occurrence and not just there. It has been happening so often that It does not even register in our conversation from day to day. We all know someone who has turned to this. A star, an idol, a friend, a brother. I asked myself would I know the signs. Of course I do, I took a class covering the symptoms in college. In addition, who has not entertained thoughts of suicide. Or, maybe not. I tell you what though, not a single symptom I learned about could be easily gleaned from Facebook. You know that place we go master our delusions of self.
Our virtual communities are failing us in this sense. Nothing can replace the genuine body of Christ. Our moral therapeutic deism, our “No drama” attitudes, and our arrogant efforts cut all the negative people out of our lives, is not only inconveniencing us on our commute, but leaving us unprepared and questioning God when the death of a loved one comes knocking at our own doors. Think about that the next time someone calls you and you text back. “What’s Up?” More often then not the reason they give you for the call is not the real reason they are trying to connect with you.
I hope this experience colors my ministry in Chile. I hope it informs it and directs my ministry. This is just one of the ways my discovery period has redirected my assumption about how I may be able to serve in Chile. In conclusion, I pray it reinforces for all who read this the necessity of us all turning away from our current interpretation of the Body of Christ, and forces us to focus on the incarnatioinal nature of Christ’ s ministry here on Earth. Pray with me today, that we take the time to see the signs of those suffering around us, and that we not delude ourselves with our astute practices of image management, and self delusion, that everything is O.K. and there are not people dying of loneliness as the Body of Christ is losing its emphasis in the world around us.
“If Satan Can’t make you Sin, He will just make you busy!”
-Via Dr. Jacob Youmans