by Lisa Neef
[This is the fifth in a series of six reflections on finding Christian Community in a new city. You can view Part 1 here, Part 2 here, Part 3 here and Part 4 here.]
November: My Canadian friends point me to the other Christian student group, and when I email them for info, they invite me to a weekly Bible study. I am tired of being a newb, but I go because there is promise of homecooked Italian food.
I’ve come to call it the Crazy Bible Study. It’s a mess. People attend and drop out again. Catholics are mixed haphazardly with Proddies. I hear that even Muslims who want to learn more about the Bible have been known to attend. Denominations aside, the members of the Crazy Bible Study don’t fit together and don’t always even like each other.
There’s an old Catholic who likes to talk about how the Lord will rain fire and brimstone on Amsterdam one day. The German New Testament PhD student in the group likes to toss around words like “exegesis” but has about as much charm as a piece of lint. And one girl in the group always has the same prayer request, which is that God would return to her the lying boyfriend who beats her up.
But there is Jesus’ promise that when two or three people in the Crazy Bible Study pray together, he is with us, so I come back the next week and the week after. Slowly and with small steps, Love is eeked out in an unforgiving city. We share a big yummy pot of sauerkraut with the kind Hungarian couple who lead the group.
I offer the girl with the abusive boyfriend dinner and a movie after he’s kicked her out of his place again, and the relief on her face warms my little apartment like a fire. Fire-and-brimstone-guy takes us on a late-night bicycle tour of the Christian landmarks of the old city core, and we touch history. In the mess, God smiles, then laughs, shakes my face and tells me that I am home.