After and Outside the Conference

Every year, I believe that one of the challenges we have after the Kerygma Conference is having to apply everything that we learned outside the conference halls. That means, when we’re back to our usual selves, doing our usual routine. We’re going back to school, to work, or back to staying at home after that 4-day absence.

I attended the Grand Feast, the morning session, in MOA Arena last Sunday. It ended right around lunch time, so just imagine the chaos in the nearby restaurants, trying to accommodate around 12,000++ attendees that just got out of the arena. We checked the restaurant with the least number of people waiting outside. My daughter and I stayed to fall in line outside a certain Filipino restaurant, while my husband went to the other end of the row of restos, to check if there’s one that has vacant seats.

He sent me a message after a few minutes that he’s inside a restaurant serving Mexican dishes, but even if there was space inside, he mentioned that there was this “quiet chaos” as no one was attending to the newcomers. I thought of a restaurant serving savory crepes and mentioned that he go there instead. Fortunately, there were tables available, and when he took a seat, someone waited on him immediately.

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It took us a few more minutes to get there, dodging the al-fresco lines of the nearby restaurants. By the time we got to where my husband was, the chaos got ahead of us.

I saw that the restaurant had limited staff. One was taking orders and incharge of the dining area, handing out the menus, giving the utensils and napkins, cleaning up after those who had already left, and welcoming the newcomers. One was in the cashier, and was also in charge of beverages, from fruit shakes, sodas, to brewed coffee. 2 were in the kitchen, one was tending to the crepe orders, another one for everything else. This was in my line of sight. Not sure if there were others in the kitchen.

My husband got his order first. To fight her boredom and avoid an additional riot, I let my daughter watch YouTube. And I was observing the people inside the restaurant, particularly the customers near our table. I saw that they were attendees of the grand feast, as some were wearing Feast shirts, or at least wearing shirts with bible verses.

And, upon encountering them (though indirectly) I judged them, and I felt guilty about being self-righteous.

See, they were not being very nice to the staff. I wondered which of the two groups they belong to: those who just attended the grand feast and were really hungry, or those who were to attend the afternoon session, and were already hungry, not to mention, late. There weren’t any reserved seats in the arena, so they have to come in early to get seats. So I’m guessing if they belong to this group, they maybe late already.

Okay, so maybe they were feeling a little inconvenienced. They were perhaps very hungry, or maybe their orders came to their table but were incomplete. Some were getting impatient that it took a while before they were waited on. One left because it took a while before one of their dishes was given, and had to “discuss” with the cashier about taking the dish that wasn’t served out of the bill.

As I was witnessing these I thought to myself, is this how we are supposed to show ourselves to the outside world? After encountering God in a church service, or perhaps still about to go to a religious session, is this glorifying God outside the bounds of church?

Perhaps we post the good things we do on social media, but completely change personalities when we think no one’s watching. Are we being good representatives of Christianity’s Christians? Or are we living testaments of what made Gandhi say this: I like your Christianity, but I don’t like your Christians.

When these people left, I sort of engaged on small talks with the cashier/beverage lady, and she mentioned that they did not anticipate the influx of people. They were really short on staff, and I think they were a bit regretful that they did not have enough people serving their guests. Somehow I admired how patient and humble they were amidst grumbling customers.

And then it came to me, these people seemed to have attended the grand feast, for being considerate and having given their best and their all despite their shortcomings. How they managed to still smile even with some hurtful words thrown at them. I actually saw Jesus in them.

I remembered that verse in the bible about how we treat the least of our brothers. And somehow, as workers in the restaurant, they are considered our servants, and would usually treat them as the “least,” but they of course deserve our respect.

I felt ashamed for the “brothers and sisters” who somehow left the practice of Christian teachings inside the arena, when those ourside of it are clearly the ones who need it the most. I believe that it’s a responsibility on our part as attendees to extend that to those who weren’t able to attend.

So when my husband and I talked with the restaurant staff, I believe we dealt with them with utmost patience, sincerity, and concern, that they were being lashed out by other people because of their limitations. When they should have been given more consideration.

Anyway, this has been a long one. I don’t want to be self-righteous here, ’cause I admit, I’ve had those moments where I too became a little impatient over “the least of my brothers.” I guess this is a reminder for myself as well that we need to be a little self-conscious whenever we deal with other people who are outside our church, or who have not attended the same or similar type of gatherings as we do.

We should always be guided and conscious that we somehow represent Jesus as a Christian, and be disciplers and evangelists of His words and His works. We may be the only Bible, or the Jesus that one would encounter in someone’s life.