Malcolm Muggeridge started out a doubter. He was an acclaimed reporter for the BBC and he viewed British Christianity as lifeless and dull. It did not excite him. In fact, to his reasoned, calculating way of thinking, Christianity made very little sense. In his opinion it reeked of superstition and seemed extremely antiquated in a modern world.
But Muggeridge came to see that he was missing something. He began to slide into a cynicism about life that unnerved him. He began searching for something to believe in. In 1970 he was sent to Calcutta, India to do a story on a little known Roman Catholic nun named Mother Teresa. At that time, the world was just beginning of her work among the poor and dispossessed.
This encounter would change him and leave a lasting impact on the rest of his life. Muggeridge met her as she was ministering in the streets with sick and dying people in a ghetto like he had never seen before, amid stench, filth, garbage, disease, and poverty that was just unbelievable. But what struck Muggeridge more than anything else, even there in that awful squalor and despair, was the deep, warm glow on Mother Teresa’s face and the love in her eyes as she cared for the hurting.
After he returned to Great Britain and produced his account for BBC-TV, he just couldn’t get Mother Teresa off his mind. He sought out people he knew who professed faith in Christ and they helped him to see that there was room for him in the church. Not suddenly, but rather quietly, Malcolm came into the Christian family, professed faith in Christ, and was baptized into the Church of England. He quickly became a great intellectual apologist for the message of Christ, writing and speaking to confound the critics of the faith. He would also take on the detractors of Christianity in Britain in a series of broadcasts which became enormously popular among an ever-increasing secular population growing steadily more indifferent to Christ.
Muggeridge’s dramatic story demonstrates that it isn’t how the journey starts that counts. It is how the journey ends that really matters! This coming Saturday I will be leading many of our Asbury friends and family on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Walking where Jesus walked has a transformative supremacy that rarely leaves a person the same! Like Malcolm Muggeridge’s spiritual odyssey, persons may arrive in the Holy Land one way, but leave by another route – a route that has led them to the very reality of the living God!
Please covenant with me in prayer that all of us who make this Lenten trek into the ancient lands of Palestine will return renewed in spirit and determined more than ever to follow Christ faithfully. Pray with me that we will be more than tourists and sightseers. Pray that we’ll become transformed disciples filled with the Spirit of Christ who are ready to return to Asbury and impart that same life-changing force among us all!
In my absence, Rev. Kelsey Grissom, Asbury’s Associate Pastor, will be preaching the 8:30 and 11:00 a.m. Traditions services on Sunday, March 24 and Rev. Robert Mercer, Asbury’s Pastor of Family Formation, will be preaching both Traditions services on Sunday, March 31. They will be continuing my current Lenten sermon series “The Great I Am.” I would also ask that you keep them in your prayers as well.
I will be back in the pulpit on April 7 and will continue our Lenten journey toward Easter. Keep in mind that while I away on this pilgrimage, I will not be sending my weekly eLetter. However, I have asked Amy Gonzalez our Communications Coordinator to document our daily travels directly from the Holy Land. I want all of you to feel like you’re on this journey and you can do that by visiting my blog each day. To access it, click the link I just shared or simply go to asburyonline.org and scroll to the bottom of the page.
God be with you!