I recently watched Karate Kid after having not seen it in many years. It was one of my favs when a kid. I even dressed up as Daniel on Halloween one year. Anyhow, Mr. Miyagi is well known to us all as he was a transformational character in Daniel’s life. Here’s a profile of each character:
Mr. Miyagi – old Japanese widow, somewhat of a hermit, Buddhist, manages an apartment building, spends his time tending to the restoration of things, and the beautifying of his bonsai trees.
Daniel – frustrated teen being raised by a single mom, trying to fit in at school after a cross-country move, bullied, angry, wants to do well just like everyone else
So Daniel’s getting his butt kicked, comes back one night and beats up his bike, leaving it for the garbage bin, and finds it full restored the next day. Mr. Miyagi has his eyes on Daniel and can see right through the mirage of his lies and sees a hurting teenager with no father to turn to. Mr. Miyagi reaches out to Daniel and the rest is history, all the sequels included.
If an old Japanese widowed hermit can radically change the course of a frustrated teen, then the Church can most certainly reach out to others that are hurting in much the same way. I am sick and tired of Churches that think our youth need someone cool and hip. They need Mr. Miyagi, minus the Buddhism and insert the Gospel. We need to do a better job of reaching out to the hurting in our community, whether it be our Church or our neighborhood. Old folks can make lemonade for the “thugs” balling it up a couple houses down. An older woodworker can invite someone in to learn a trade. And on and on and on. Being missional is being loving in a savvy and genuine way. Is it really so hard?
Daniel did NOT need some immature cool dude giving him lessons on life. He needed a mature warrior who understands the battles of life and the pains of youth. I think that there are a bunch of Mr. Miyagi’s in the Church and I am absolutely certain that there are Daniel’s everywhere around us. Let us learn the lessons of Karate Kid and be Mr. Miyagi’s.