We've only been a few months at this tentmaking business now. There's been a lot of prayer, a lot of heart searching.
The whole process has been overwhelming and bewildering. Just to navigate through the details of everyday life has taken all our energy. Finding a grocery store, locating a pharmacy, looking for school supplies so that my husband can prepare to teach his classes—everything has been a major project.
Our lives are more settled now. My husband knows how to navigate his way to work. I can find my way to Arabic class. The grocery store is on a familiar route. We know where our worship group meets. These few essentials give us a sense of comfort, of feeling at home.
But this morning, my predictable life was interrupted. My comfort level was shaken. I didn't know where I was. Nobody I talked to knew what I was saying. And I had no idea what to do.
When I arrived at my Arabic lesson, my teacher cut the lesson short; she was sick and couldn’t concentrate on my stammering Arabic. I was relieved to end early because I had some errands I needed to run.
Walking out of the language school, mobile in hand, I looked up the address where I needed to go. Confidently I hailed a taxi. In a hodge-podge of French and broken Arabic I described the crossroads I needed to reach. In the middle of our broken exchanges, the lady in the other seat muttered to the driver something about “these foreigners need to learn Arabic.” My face felt hot, but I forged ahead.
After several minutes of maneuvering traffic and peering at street signs, the taxi-man asked to see the map on my phone. He handed it back. “No Angleesh.” But within a few moments, he pulled over and stopped. “Maybe here.” He didn’t sound sure, but I grabbed my things and stepped out onto the sidewalk.
I had no idea where I was.
I didn’t recognize anything. I found a policeman and showed him the address. He motioned me to go to the right. His directions led to a nice, big boulevard. But I had absolutely no idea where to go next or who to ask for help. There was no policeman in sight.
So I prayed. As I opened my eyes and looked at my options, I felt impressed to keep walking straight. At the next crossroads, I decided I should turn left. But then I paused in the middle of the sidewalk, uncertain where to go next. I felt very alone. Very vulnerable. I knew there was no future in crying. Neither could I stand there forever.
I prayed again. I studied the sign in front of me. “Bureau de Poste.” Maybe they could give me directions; I knew a tiny bit of French.
I silently held the map on my phone up to the man at the counter. He looked confused. We tried to communicate. Nothing seemed to work. Suddenly, out of nowhere, a young woman stepped into our confusion. She said she'd overheard our disjointed conversation; she knew where I needed to go.
Glory be to God! I wanted to hug her. She even offered to accompany me there. A stranger was willing to help me? How can you thank someone enough? How do you explain an answer to prayer?
I suddently felt safe, cared for. She knew exactly where to go. We had a lovely visit as we walked. She led me directly to my destination. As we parted, I felt like I was leaving a dear friend. She meant so much to me. She was someone God had sent to me. I
As I hailed a taxi for home, my errand completed, I praised God for being with me through my unknown. I sensed His presence, His care. He knew where I was the whole time. He was never uncertain. I simply needed to trust what He knew and His desire to show me what I needed to know.
It’s very likely, even as you’re reading this, that you’re surrounded by the familiar, the comfortable. But would you ever consider launching into the unknown?
What if God is calling you to venture into the unknowns of the MENA region? To become a workplace witness in the secular world, where religious activities are limited or illegal? Where witness is your personal life, and all of life is unfamiliar?
Yes, there are challenges. You will feel vulnerable and alone. Isolated and uncertain. But God is with you. He knows what you don’t. And He is with you when you don’t even know where you are! And when you’ve seen Him work, and your faith is strengthened, you won’t be able to stop praising Him for His faithfulness to lead you to what He knows!
Another thing. I think often of the new friend I met that day as she showed me the way to my destination. God, in spite of my lostness, I pray you used me to bless her as well, and even to lead her to You! --MW