My plane touched down at the Denver International Airport around 11:15 pm Wednesday night—effectively bringing to a close my latest missions trip to Trinidad & Tobago. This, my ninth trip, was for the purposes of conducting a conference called “Naked and Not Ashamed: Sex, the Body, and the Glory of God.” We went through all of the Scriptures on Friday-Saturday night, the 18th-19th of January. We had a great time looking at Genesis, the wisdom literature, Matthew 5 and 19, and then what Paul had to say on the matter. After that was a Q&A by those in attendance. Praying God uses that time to bring people closer to Christ and to bring them closer to the design God has for their marriage or future marriages.
I’d like to offer some reflections on the trip in at least a three-part series. Today I offer Part I.
First, all cultures struggle with pursuing their desires over God’s design for marriage. With the Carnival season in full swing in Trinidad (which makes Mardi Gras in New Orleans look like a birthday party for your five-year-old), a lot of flesh and a lot of sexual promiscuousness takes place. People travel in from all over the world to take part. But even outside of Carnival, many relationships and many marriages in Trinidad, like in the US, are outside of God’s design and the general atmosphere of wondering if the relationships are worth it. If nothing else, I hoped that showing them God’s design, then from hearing from men and women who have been married a good amount of time doing it God’s way will plant a seed for not only Christian marriages, but the gospel as well.
Secondly, all cultures struggle with racial tensions. While I was there, the big news was that the Tobago Hall of Assembly was having their elections. The two parties (the PNM—the People’s National Movement) and the somewhat-fledgling TOP (Tobago Organization for the People) were hoping to obtain the 12 seats for the 12 Tobago districts. The PNM had 8, and the TOP had 4.
The TOP were, the words of the Trinbagonians, “whitewashed.” The PNM now holds all 12. Why? Among other issues, racial fears. While we Americans look at the skins of Trinidadians and Tobagoans and seek them as all dark-skinned (true), most either come from African-American descent or East Indian descent. One politician running for the PNM said that if the TOP won, they would be shipping Indians from Calcutta to Tobago. Even though later he retracted that statement, it put enough fear in the Tobagoans to ouster the remaining TOP assemblymen.
One commonality? Given that Trinidad & Tobago has been under the Spanish, British, and French flags (all Europeans who had enslaved the people when they colonized them), there is a general undercurrent of dislike and distrust from many with European descent—including Americans. While I have never had any issue with anyone there—and Roddie Taylor, the host pastor, is one of my dearest friends—the undercurrent is still there, deep-seeded from decades and centuries of experiences. Even the Bible I use is deemed my some in Trinidad the “white man’s Bible that was used to enslave their people long ago.” So may God continue to use His Word to break down the barriers of racial tensions so we can be united under the banner of the gospel (Ephesians 2:11-22; Galatians 3:28).
(Part II forthcoming)