Have you ever had the opportunity to be in the presence of someone great, like really great, like a celebrity or the President or maybe the CEO of the super corporation you work for? I have. I have had the opportunity to be in the presence of some pretty influential people in my lifetime. I’ve had that feeling of ‘awe’ and ‘wow’ and ‘what did I do to deserve this’. And yet none of those times or people compare to the experience I had this weekend.
We met some new people a few weeks ago. They are planting a church in a nearby town and have a really cool vision. They invited us to attend a gathering they were having at a local campground, out in the country. The event was open to the general public, and through social media this event pulled a good amount of people. You know just regular people, people who didn’t know each other, people like us, the ordinary, the extraordinary. People who came together as the Body of Christ to break bread around a table and share their stories. And that is all. That was the event. Eat dinner… tell your story to those around you… make a s’more… enjoy watching the kiddos run around… worship music by the fire. That was the evening. Simple. Pure. Community. Fellowship.
And in the midst of this breaking of the bread…God put this man in front of us. This man from Pakistan. Who spoke amazing English with just a touch of an accent. And as he started sharing his story with hubby and I, I felt like the smallest of the small. Like that old fairy-tale my grandmother used to read me… Thumbelina small. As this man right around our same age shared about his great job he left about a year ago as a math teacher who had a great salary, benefits, and holiday time…as he shared how a colleague was tortured and killed…as he told us how all the money he came with is now gone…how he brought his parents with him…is working in a grocery store…how it takes him an hour and a half to get there because he has to walk most of the way until he can get a bus…as he shared his first hand account of Christian persecution…not only did I feel small but so unworthy to be sharing the same space as this man.
We put so many people on pedestals, and yet it’s men like this who should hold the highest honor. These are some of the bravest of the brave. The ones you read about or hear about on the news, but seldom get to meet. The ones who risk it all to be able to freely proclaim their Savior. And the real questions come…would I have the same courage? Would I drop the comfortable to become so uncomfortable? Would I in the face of death be able to fearlessly proclaim my faith? I pray to be that strong of a person, that strong of a Christian, that faithful, that trusting. He gave His life for me, how could I not do the same?
John 15:18-20 says, “If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first. The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you. Do you remember what I told you? ‘A slave is not greater than the master.’ Since they persecuted me, naturally they will persecute you. And if they would had listened to me, they would listen to you.” Have I suffered persecution? No not really…have I been in situations that allow people to question my faith? Absolutely! I am in this comfortable place of not being afraid to stand by my faith. Even though I have felt ‘attacked’ in the past by people questioning me about such silly things as…”this moms group is too Jesus, can we drop the Jesus” (ummm it’s a Christian moms group at a church, no..), “your business would be better if it was spiritual not Christian, it would be more appealing to more people, Christians in general have a bad reputation, especially right now” (sorry not changing it), “do you need to bring God into everything?” (yeah He’s the reason I’m here, not sorry). As uncomfortable as these situations are, have been, and will continue to be, because they go round and round at times and have cost me ‘friends’ at times – I have absolutely no idea what this man has been through, and no, I do not feel worthy of being in his presence.
How often don’t I feel worthy of the unconditional love God has for me…how many times do I stumble on the truth? I am fully aware He sent this man to be at this table as a humble reminder for me. To not take for granted what I have, this amazing platform, to continue to speak the truth while building relationships that honor Him. To bridge the gap in these communities throughout the world so people see His love. And yes, I feel unworthy that I am such a hot mess that God had to send this man from Pakistan to a dinner in the woods to get my attention. And in the midst I am thankful. Thankful I serve a God who will not change, but can change everything… I am thankful I live in a land that I am free to worship, share and proclaim my God. I am thankful for the opportunity to break bread with other people in our community. And I am thankful that God continues to use others and their stories to break my heart so that I can humbly come along side them.
*photography from our amazing evening courtesy of Sheena Courtney Photography …click here to see more of her amazing work*