It’s hard to believe over two weeks have already past. It feels like only yesterday we were getting off the plane, wishing we were in bed, but now we are less than a week from leaving and heading home. I have this strange feeling that our time here has been incredible incomplete. Like there is so much more to be done, and yet we won’t see it. But looking back, I suppose we just need to be grateful for the time we have. Over the past two weeks, I have been challenged in ways I never would have suspected and blessed in ways I never could have imagined. And I have been blessed beyond belief this week. But I find that the greatest blessing I have found came from the place where struggle and blessing meet. And this week, I was blessed enough to witness just a glimpse of that place, and my heart was deeply touched.
This past week we’ve been working at a little camp that this past week was hosting a refugee family camp. The camp mostly consisted of refugee families that had come to know the Lord, but that was not everyone. While he wasn’t the only one who came alone, one man(who we’ll call “R” for the sake of confidentiality) had been alone for much longer. Unlike everyone else R was not a Christian. For thirty-eight years he had no one he could call family. For thirty-eight years hate filled his heart. For thirty-eight years he had not heard the sound of laughter and joy coming from a child. For thirty-eight years he had no hope, love, or happiness. He had only recent arrived in Athens and had no where to go, and yet somehow and someway, R was brought to this camp, and for the first time in thirty-eight years he felt love and joy in his heart. For the first time in thirty-eight he felt like he had a family. For the first time, he had hope. For the first time, R had Jesus. Or maybe Jesus had him. R didn’t know Jesus when he came to camp, but worked relentlessly in his heart over the course of those five days and I believe in all my heart that he has left knowing Him a little better and that God is only beginning to work in R’s life.
So what do we say then? How do we process so much brokenness and so much grace? I’m not sure we can, at least I can’t. My words are too weak, too feeble, to even begin to approach the vastness of those things. People may even be able to write books upon books and fail to capture the hurt and joy that comes from life and from knowing Christ. I know this: we are all of us broken and worn. We are in desperate need of Christ. And this past week I have met people who have found that hope for the first time, the same hope I’ve taken for granted for so many years, and to see them all finding fullness in Christ when everything in their lives has fallen to pieces, gives my heart much joy. I think I will remember many things from this trip, but what I think I will remember most is people like R. People who are so hurt and broken and yet are overflowing with the joy that comes from knowing Jesus Christ as their savior. It is a joy that stands above all understanding and that warms the hearts of all who come into contact with it.