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North Africa – Dec. ’08/Jan. ’09

08 Jan

img_0040Reflections from a Mini Bus:

As I ride through the streets of this city in the dead of night, I am brought to a solemn silence reflecting on the last week and a half…   The days seemed so long as we trudged through them, joyfully  exhausted, but in these moments, deep in the city night, it feels as  if they sped by all too quickly, not unlike all of these passing  streetlights, pointing us toward our final destination:  Home.  The  city seems so different at two in the morning.  The streets aren’t  filled to the brim with frogger-style pedestrians constantly crossing,  dodging, weaving.  Even weirder still, the road ahead isn’t brightly  lit with a thousand tiny brake lights on hundreds of stop-and-go cars.

It brings me back to those first moments of the combination of  excitement, nervousness, and readiness, stepping off of a Lufthansa  mid-class aircraft and getting the “Express” treatment through and out of the airport.  Back to those first hours of complete and utter  dependency on our M friend and having zero clue about anything that  was happening.  Back to hopping in a large taxi, and flying through  city traffic.  Oh, city traffic.  In a lot of ways, the way city  traffic worked was very much the way the rest of the city worked as well.  I mean, except the hospitality.  I don’t think anyone was very  hospitable speeding through the streets of this city, wedging between  other cars, and forcing themselves into self-declared lanes without warning.  That was the city in all its glory.

But it wasn’t N. Africa.  It didn’t include the stunning natural beauty of  the sunrises and sunsets, the crashing waves of the Sea, or  the glorious purity of looking out from the top of a sand dune, seeing  nothing but waves of sand before you.  There is something that is  undeniable about God’s majesty when one looks around at things such as  these.  There is truly a stirring to awe — awe that a landscape, a  combination of colors tossed forth, to and fro, taking shape, making  form, could stir the heart.  It is no surprise that Paul sent word to  Rome that, “[God’s] invisible attributes, namely, His eternal power  and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the  creation of the world, in the things that have been made” (Rom. 1:20  ESV).  But even in all of these things, their splendor, their beauty,  pales in comparison to magnificent man – even unrighteous man — who,  out of all creation, God made in His own image.

Which is probably why, driving through the streets of the city, head  filled with visions of sunsets and sand dunes, a name refuses to leave  me.  Subtle whispers of the Holy Spirit repeat one name:  ‘Mr. S’.   Mr. S was the oldest of the men in his family, a butcher and patriarch.  He taught me how to tie a head scarf, smiling the entire time.  He offered to us  his home, his food, his tea. img_0255 He opened up all that he  had to us and brought forth his best if only we would sit down and  dine with him.  Eating with Mr. S and the other men in his family was  beyond blessing.  The way God stirs hearts to love who He loves comes  in a lot of ways, and sometimes all it takes to go from the abstract,  distant, arms-length love that we have for so much God loves to a  real, in-your-face, heart-aching sort of love is a shove in the right  direction through a shared meal.  Its no wonder that Christ’s earthly ministry was filled with dining with the sick, that he placed such  weight on his final meal with his friends, and that the early church  “broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere  hearts” (Acts 2:46 NIV).

mattSo pray for Mr. S.  Pray that God do a mighty work in his life, that  the Holy Spirit would prepare and soften his heart and ultimately open  up his eyes and ears to receive the gospel, and that through the new  relationships our M friend has with his family he might hear the Good  News that was to Paul, of first importance:  “that Christ died for our  sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was  raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he  appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve” (1 Cor. 15:3-5 NIV).  And  pray that in these things, God might raise up a great multitude from  Mr. S’s tribe would sing at the end of days, “Salvation  belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb” (Rev.  7:10 NIV).

Written by Matt Kramp

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Posted by on January 8, 2009 in End of the Earth, North Africa

 

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