Samaria. Remember? It’s one of the places in Acts 1:8 where Jesus told us to go and be His witnesses. It’s located just past Judea, a little distant from our homes in Jerusalem. Or, so I thought until this past month when I was in Ciudad del Este, Paraguay training church leaders in strategic church planting and multiplication. At least that was my plan. So often I go to teach others and God sits me down and says, “No Scott, it’s you I want to teach”.
Samaria is NOT a matter of distance. It cannot be found by going farther away from home. It can only be found when you choose to get out of your comfort zone and allow God to break your heart.
When Jesus was walking from Judea to Galilee, He chose to pass through Samaria. Normally, the Jews would make every effort to avoid Samaria. The Samaritans were “untouchable” and the Jews, including Jesus’ disciples, had no desire to interact with them; their hearts were hardened. But Jesus’ heart was different. He purposefully entered Samaria desiring to impact not only the life of one women, but an entire village. After revealing Himself to the woman at the well, she ran to the village to share about Jesus. Shortly thereafter they told her “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.” John 4:42
You can find Samaria when you are willing to open your heart to the “untouchables” … those who are different … those who make you uncomfortable … those who make you fearful … those who dislike you or greet you with anger. I found Samaria this past month in Ciudad del Este, Paraguay. I was strategically looking for it; I just didn’t know it was Samaria. “Samaria” is located just outside the Ciudad del Este bus terminal on one side of the road. It’s not found by looking on a map, it’s found by looking through the eyes of my/your heart.
My friend Tim Kunkel drove me down this street last year. Like Jesus’ disciples, I did not want to go there … after all, it’s a scary place. The people living in this “Samaria” are a part of a tribal group, called Maca, who have left their tribal lands to relocate into urban areas. They speak a different tribal language, but understand Guarani, the native language of Paraguay. They walk around in front of their makeshift houses with little or no clothing and have a glazed look in their eyes due to the drugs they use. As I drove by I could see many children. They were dirty with little or no clothing. I saw children sniffing glue fumes from a bag and wandering in the middle of the street in front of their homes. I was told how the parents sell the children to men who park their cars on the other side of the street. The parents sell the children to buy more drugs. It is the lowest level of depravity.
People drive by like Samaria doesn’t exist. The government doesn’t know what to do about these “Samaritans”. The hearts of those living in Jerusalem have become so dulled to the images and that they appear as if they no longer see Samaria. It’s as if it doesn’t exist. After all, this group has been there for 12 to 15 years. But it does exist! I saw it. I experienced it. I cannot close the eyes of my heart.
I was told that “these people have chosen this lifestyle; it is their choice. I was told that they don’t want to change”. But what about the children? Who chose this lifestyle for them? Who is crying out for them? Who will give them a voice? If not me, who? If not now, when?
I’m returning to this Samaria in June to do “something”. What am I going to do? I don’t know. I know that giving them “things” will not help, they will just sell the “things” for drugs. I know what they need. They need to know my Savior. They need to be rescued in the same way Jesus rescued me. I know that I was no better than least of them; in fact, I’m just like them … a sinner who has destroyed lives. But, I am different today. I have been rescued and restored.
I’m trusting that God will direct my steps. I have made the decision that my “when” is “now”. I’m ready to face their anger. I am ready to face the rocks that they threw at me as I took this picture. I am convinced that this “Samaria” is no different than the Samaria found in John 4. Jesus can use one child to impact a village. I’m praying for that one child.
So, if you don’t know where Samaria is, contact me, I know where it is, I can show you … it’s not far. We can go together. We can pray together. Want to come?