Today we sat behind some "strangers" and took a minute to introduce ourselves and welcome them to our side of the pew. Our church has several services every week so it's VERY difficult to know who's a member and who's just visiting. We just take the risk and welcome whoever comes our way!
The middle-age couple announced that they were VISITING!
They told their story. They are back in the US to rest and recuperate, after spending 5 years in Kabul. They are in charge of the "guest house" there and their job is to entertain missionaries and church groups, making sure they get fed, housed and are PROTECTED while visiting that war-torn, very dangerous place. They were in Tulsa visiting some folks that had experienced their hospitality in that far away city. They explained that their "company" very quickly turns into close friends in that setting.
They were at our church because they receive financial support from it and they wanted to thank the church mission pastor personally.
The wife admitted she was in the US several months before she could actually sleep at night. When I asked her to describe her life in Afghanistan, she hesitated and then pronounced, "Intense!" That one word spoke volumes. They will be returning in January.
Their son, daughter-in-law and 4 grandchildren live there also. All of them were "deployed" at the same time by two different mission agencies. They felt it was a miracle and were so grateful that the whole family was sent to the same city! (Grandchildren in Afghanistan, I cannot comprehend it!)
They live in a walled compound, razor wire on top, and a guard with a gun stands at their gate.
Our brief visit was over as the choir began to sing.
I glanced over their way a couple of times over the next hour or so. They were soaking in the music, the atmosphere, the prayers, the sermon, and the PEACE that prevails in that place. They were drinking it in as if their life depended upon it.
I suppose it does! They MUST be filled to overflowing before January! Every ounce of their being will be tested when they return, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
As they are squeezed by a foreign culture, a false religion, danger, toils and snares, I have no doubt that the love of God will pour out of these two brave saints.
I pray it reaches into a heart or two.
When church was over, we held their hands, looked into their smiling eyes, and wished them well. They were very thankful for friendly faces and our concern for them.
I'm SO glad we met them. Reaching out to strangers is ALWAYS a blessing!