We are now winding down our trip. There is only two days left before we leave to return to the States and its been a flurry of activity. We've been squeezing in every last moment we have with seeing all the people that we've developed friendships with, and all of it has been both wonderful and incredibly sad. It's going to be hard to say goodbye to so many wonderful people who've blessed us so much and have poured so much into our lives with both their experience and their time.
Today I'm going to remind us a little of what this is all about. The church we've been working with, Mosaic, has recently had a new addition to its body of believers. Ali comes from a Muslim background and has been going to Mosaic for about 8 months. But in that time he's had some lifechanging things happen. The first thing he noticed about Mosaic was that one of the pastors was wearing shorts. This was so incredibly strange to him as he's spent so much time witnessing the conundrum of people dressing up for church. But if that wasn't enough he was immediatly enveloped in a big hug when he walked in. Ali is no stranger to hugs, but there was something different about the hug from Mosaic: he could tell that they really cared.
For a long time Ali spent his time in a strange place. He felt so incredibly different at Mosaic than he felt anywhere else. There was a strange and permeating sense of peace as well as new realization that he just couldn't place his finger on. There was something altogether different that didn't make sense. He spent most of that time in tears, and he didn't even know why. But what he really cherished about this time is that the people of Mosaic left him to figure it out on his own. They helped him up when he needed it, and were friends, and made him feel that it was altogether safe to go about investigating this in his own way.
It wasn't long before Ali found his way into a bible study called 25th Hour led by a Romanian named Ovi. Ovi's passion was to use film, story and art to try and find ways of connecting with the bible. Ovi and Ali quickly became good friends, and Ovi was able to come alongside and help Ali wrestle with many of the tough questions he had. And all the way the realization that this was just a better form of life than he'd ever had, that it was real and strange was growing inside Ali. It was a difficult decision. Ali loves people, and he loves his family especially. The last thing he wanted to do was to hurt them or cause them pain, but he knew the decision he had to make. Today Ali shared that he has given his life to the Lord, knowing fully what it might cost. He's asked for the support of the entire community of Mosaic because of the overwhelming way in which they've loved him.
It was incredibly special to see this event happening in our midst. God is truly a God of miracles. Even on Friday I was myself feeling caught in despair seeing so many people trapped in the bondage of bad decisions, alcohol and even just guilt: unable or unwilling to make any kind of decision that would lead them to a new and better life. To see Ali quickly and powerfully drawn to God just proves that He is still very much active. But it also shows the value that the church has and what a community of love can accomplish.