She sat beside me on the airplane.
“Hi,” she said.
“How are you?” I asked.
The conversation quickly ended. It was a long flight from Dallas to Columbus. She fell asleep. I read my new book. But the silence didn’t last long.
The flight attendant eventually made it to our row. He asked if we wanted anything to eat or drink. She woke up. I requested some black coffee. And a conversation began brewing.
“Are you going to Columbus or somewhere else?” I asked.
“I’m going to West Virginia,” she said.
“That’s where we’re from,” I said. I was even wearing my WVU hat!
Turns out, the young girl sitting beside me was from Peru. She was traveling to West Virginia to visit her father.
I told her some people from my church came to Dallas for a conference.
She asked, “What kind of church is it?”
I said, “It’s a nondenominational church. It’s not affiliated with any denomination.”
“It’s a Christian church?”
I guess I should’ve thought about that. Here was a girl from a different country. I doubt she cared about the denomination. Just saying. Here’s the first lesson I learned from a Peruvian girl: don’t assume “Christian” and “church” are synonymous terms.
Jesus says, “‘Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation’” (Mark 16:15 ESV). I’m pretty sure the world is bigger than America.
But she wanted to look at my book. I handed it over.
I had just bought the book. Everybody Always. It’s a Christian book. A book about love by a lawyer named Bob Goff.
She read the front cover. She read the back cover. Then, she spoke.
“This is good because a lot of people think someone is trying to be sexual. But some just want to be kind.”
I was shocked by her response. And that’s why the second lesson from a Peruvian girl is about love.
You see, this book has nothing to do with sex. It’s a book about loving people. Is there a difference? In the eyes of the world, evidently not.
The world has a distorted image of love. From America to Peru, it’s about sex. But God’s Word says something different.
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (1 John 4:7-11 ESV).
God is love. The world does not know God. Therefore, the world does not know love. It’s no wonder, then, that the world has such a distorted image of what love is.
1 Corinthians 13 is a beautiful picture of love. It says, “Love is patient and kind…” (v. 4 ESV). Hey, wait a minute. That’s what the girl from Peru said. Love is kind.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to buy the lies of culture. When I think about love, I want to think like God does. In God’s eyes, love means sitting with outcasts. Love means giving an encouraging word. Love means caring for orphans and widows. Love means sacrificing yourself on behalf of another without expecting anything in return.
I’m thankful for the time I had with the girl from Peru. Can you believe I didn’t even ask for her name? I’m shy. But I’m learning to love people. Even different people. Just like Jesus.
Isaiah Pauley is passionate about sharing Jesus in a simple way. Follow the journey of this young pastor at www.isaiahpauley.com, on Facebook at Isaiah Pauley Page, or on Instagram @isaiahpauley.