He Saw A Miracle
It’s the first time that I have been left alone in this country since we moved here one year ago. My husband is on an entirely different continent and here I am with our children in a country that is looking instability straight in the eye. The days with him gone are long and the nights, longer.
As I closed my eyes and felt the baby’s breath exhale softly on my face, I slowly got up without waking the precious one and kissed our curly haired 5 year old who was sleeping soundly with her beloved stuffed bunny dangling over the top bunk. I tiptoed out of their room, only to be met by our oldest son in the hallway.
“What are you doing awake?” I said to him with a slight startle in my voice.
“I can’t sleep mom. I’ve tried for like an hour” he told me.
“It’s late, son, let’s try again” I said.
“Will you cuddle with me?” he asked.
I looked into his sleepy eyes and realized that the days of him asking me to lay in his bed and cuddle are numbered. These days are fleeting and once they are gone, they’re gone.
We snuggled up under his fleece blanket and that’s when the questions of his heart were unlocked and my discipleship ability was challenged. This 7 year old is old enough to start asking the difficult questions and being that he is my first child, this is new territory for me…
“I believe in God, but I kinda don’t” he confessed in a voice that lacked confidence.
“Oh really?” I said nonchalantly. “How come?”
“I mean, I believe there is a God, but why doesn’t He do miracles like He used to do when Peter and Paul were alive? I just want to see a miracle, Mom” he told me.
My heart was inspired by this young one’s yearning for more than just merely reading the Bible. Even at his tender young age, he wants to see God’s wonders and be part of His story. I can see that He wants to experience God’s power, and I see the next generation of radically devoted followers of the One who conquered death in this sweet son of mine.
“Oh son, your life is full of miracles,” I reminded him. “Remember how you were diagnosed with diabetes and then the same doctor told us that you were healed and that there was no explanation as to how that could have happened?”
“Sigh. I know, mom. I just want to see more miracles” he said with full conviction.
“I want you to see more miracles, too!” I told him “You can pray and ask God to show you that He is real. Ask Him to show you miracles! He loves you and He wants you to know and see Him, son. He can do anything!”
We cuddled a bit longer and when I realized that he wasn’t going to sleep, I let him get up and read books to himself on our couch while I started to do my language homework. Having a hard time going to sleep was completely uncharacteristic of our son. I was actually puzzled as to why he was still awake so late, but figured he would get drowsy while reading.
And then there was a soft knock at the door…
“Who could that be?” I thought to myself. “Could it really be our neighbor?”
It was just after dinner time that I had walked with our children to our neighborhood market to buy some groceries. As we were walking back in, with hands full of bags and two daughters who were fighting over a bag of balloons, resulting in the pulling of pigtails, I ran into the woman who lives on our floor.
Where do I begin.
She was very friendly when we first moved in one year ago. She taught me how to turn my oven on and had our family over for a special, traditional dinner. She had asked me to exercise with her and I gladly took her up on her offer. We were off to a great start….or so I thought. The first and only time we worked out together, I ended up sharing the gospel with her. She had asked me questions about my parents which led to me telling her about their tragic deaths. When she asked me how I lived through that, I had but one choice and that was to tell her about Jesus, my Rescuer.
And so I did.
And because of that, I had never had another conversation with her again.
She suddenly disappeared. I stopped seeing her in the hallway and I stopped seeing her in the building altogether. I would take them food and the daughter would open the door, take it, and close the door. On one occasion, the husband had asked us what Easter was and how we celebrate it. My husband explained that Easter is the celebration of Jesus dying and resurrecting. Her husband then warned us that we shouldn’t speak of such things – that it could be dangerous if certain people heard us.
I know her sudden absence wasn’t her rejecting me, but rather her rejecting Christ in me, my hope of glory.
But it has been a painful rejection nonetheless.
Making friends has not been easy for me in our neighborhood. I have walked past this neighbor’s door many times over the past year – our very first year on the mission field – with a heavy heart, longing for a friend in our apartment complex. I’ve wondered if I did something wrong….did I share the Good News too early in our relationship? No, there is no denying that the Lord opened the door wide for me to proclaim His redemption story and I had to seize the opportunity even if it meant I would be without as many friends in our apartment complex.
And so, when I ran into her and exchanged words for truly the first time in an entire year, I was nervous and felt the temptation to ignore her out of self-preservation. But how could I do that? This woman is lost. She is devout and she is trapped in Islam. Something inside of me quenched the feelings of rejection and saw her through Christ’s eyes.
I tried my best to exchange friendly conversation but my daughters were out of control due to being tired and having just walked quite a bit…and well, Dad is gone. I felt discouraged that we finally met face-to-face again and yet the circumstances were chaotic. I told her I am home quite a bit and that she is always welcome to come over. She said ok and with that we parted ways.
I felt relieved that I had obeyed the Spirit’s encouragement to show her the love of Jesus and I honestly believed I wouldn’t see her again.
But then, came the knocking on our front door.
I opened the door and to my surprise, there stood my neighbor. I invited her in, prepared 2 glasses of apple tea and presented her her first ever pumpkin spice scone. I was so tired and had so much homework. I had not yet had a break in my day and longed for my husband’s return.
But there on my couch sat a woman who had avoided me for an entire 365 days. I was shocked to say the least. My son leaned over and whispered in my ear “isn’t this the lady that hates us?” I quickly hushed him before she could hear his innocent question, and told him he could sit on the couch while we drank tea.
We started talking and found ourselves talking about the different places my family has traveled this year. When I mentioned a city we visited, which would now be entirely too dangerous to go see, she was so curious as to why on earth we go to such an unimportant place in her eyes. I explained the Biblical significance of the city…
“You say that is an important place from the Bible?” she asked. “But it’s all Muslims who live there now….hmmm.”
As she continued to ask me where we had visited, she quickly noticed a common theme – every place is a significant place in the Bible. That’s when she scooted closer to me and placed her hand on my shoulder and said…
“It seems to me that you are really serious about your religion.”
“Yes” I said.
“I actually admire that in you because so many people in this country are not like you or like me. I am very serious about my religion too and many people here do not keep the rules we are supposed to” she told me.
My neighbor then told me all about what a devout Muslim she is. She told me how she prays and how she goes to the mosque to listen to her teacher. She told me about fasting during Ramadan and about sacrificing an animal during the recent holiday we just had. She also spoke of her dream to make the pilgrimage to Mecca for the annual Hajj. As we conversed about her beliefs, we made the gradual shift to talk about my faith in Jesus. But before I was able to explain the Good News to her once more, she interrupted me…
“I think I know about Jesus. He was born and then some bad people put him on a cross but he didn’t really die because they switched his body out with someone else’s body. It’s a fact. He did not die. Yes, did you know you that it is a fact?” she said in a voice that sounded like she was in fact sharing her version of the good news with me.
“Well the Bible says that things happened differently….would you like to hear?” I asked her.
“Yes, please” she said.
With my son still sitting quietly on the couch observing, I started at the beginning and briefly touched on some highlights of God’s redemption story from the Old Testament. I then explained how and why God came in the form of a man named Jesus. I taught her how Jesus was a man yet still fully God. I told her about some of his ministry on earth and how He remained sinless and perfect. I then told her about His death and resurrection and what that means for us! We spoke about sin and how we are all sinners who, without Christ, cannot be in the presence of our holy God. We talked about Jesus being the only Way to get to God and to go to Heaven and about how and why He sends His Spirit to live inside of us.
As she contemplated what the Holy Spirit is, I told her that the Holy Spirit is who makes my heart clean. She quickly told me that because I go to church and do good things, my heart becomes clean. I told her actually, no matter what I do, I cannot ever make my own heart clean – only through the perfect sacrifice of Jesus and the sending of His Spirit can I have a clean and new inside.
“The Holy Spirit is my Teacher and…” I started, but was quickly interrupted…
“So when you read the Bible, the Holy Spirit helps you understand what you are reading?” she asked.
“Yes! That’s exactly right!” I told her
“I have to read my holy book in Arabic, but I don’t know what it says. I only know how to say the words.” she confessed.
“The Bible is in many language so everyone can understand. It’s in your language too” I told her.
Just then she looked at her watch and realized that it was past 10:30 p.m. and that she needed to get back home to her family. She said that she would love for us to meet again and chat at night and as she kissed my cheeks and left our home, I stood there in shock at the divine appointment that had knocked on my door without warning.
As I turned around, I was met with a precious 7 year old boy who was smiling ear to ear.
“Wow, mom. I can’t believe it!” he exclaimed as he hugged my waist tightly.
“I know! It’s amazing! God is amazing! Lord, please save our neighbor” I whispered in my son’s ear
I then walked my son down the dark hallway towards his bedroom and as I tucked him in he said…
“I don’t need to see God in person now to know He’s real because I just saw a miracle, mom.”
As I sat back on our couch once more, thinking back to the conversation my son and I had where I told him that He could ask the Lord to show him that He was real, I realized how the Lord had guided me in the discipleship of my son. He prompted my heart to put the responsibility back on Him to convince my son that He is the Lord of all. And so, when my son recognized all on His own how the Lord had orchestrated our neighbor hearing the Good News in our home, my son glorified the Father and his faith was increased.
Please pray for our neighbor’s salvation! I Praise the Lord for allowing me the gift of sharing with her and for His hand being so evident in our son’s life – from his sleeplessness so that he could witness my sharing to his eyes being able to see God at work!
God is good all the time.