As the days go by the health problems continue to go up and down. By God's great mercy, and by your continuing prayers, things have reached a plateau where the distraction of pain does not supersede the need for God's work. Yet the struggle continues as does the questioning of why God has allowed this to happen. At this point I'm not longer trying to diagnose the problem, but wondering more specifically if there are deeper reasons at play in all of this. A vast majority of my time has been spent in prayer trying to understand what God is trying to say in all of this, and what I might be intended to learn. My one fear is that I would walk away from all of this with out some answer that allows me to step into a new level in my relationship with God, or that I had somehow squandered my time.
That being said, things with the mission are great. Every day I get another chance to be with my great friends here and learn even more about them. Interacting with the clients has been much easier than the year before. I think also that they are more open with us who have been there before. There is less wariness, since they've seen us around and know our faces. We also know when they're trying to deceive us in things and we are more wise about how to interact with them. This becomes clear to them as well and they end up being better behaved because of it.
Tonight after the serving the evening meal I had talked with Iranian man who'd been living in the UK for about 6 years. Remarkably he'd been given a vision of Christ when he was 5 and living in Iran in a Muslim household. He didn't know who Jesus was, but in the vision he was clearly addressing him as "God," and this confused him. He didn't understand how God could also be a man. It wasn't until many years later and home church in Europe, as he was learning more about Bible that he read in Isaiah 63 about Jesus. In that chapter he is wearing a red robe, and in his vision before the man he had seen had been clothed the same. He knew immediately that Jesus was the man in his vision, and that Jesus was God.
This story is to me remarkable for many reasons. Firstly, even though I've heard it told in stories, I've never met someone who was called out of their culture and had the gospel revealed to them by vision when there was no other messenger present. It's a beautiful portrayal of who God is and how he loves and has a plan for all people everywhere, even if missionaries should be unable to reach them. Secondly, it shows us that visions are still very much alive, and that people are still able to see Jesus face to face. I know most of us probably won't in this lifetime, but it is definitely an aspiration of mine and it's inspiring to see that happen. It was remarkable to listen to this man from Iran, who was being tutored by a pastor and attending what classes on theology that he could as he had no money, knowing so clearly who Jesus was and how God loved so thoroughly everyone and still feel so desperate to understand scripture and not have a strong base. It's like being thrown into the deep end of the pool and then being taught to swim.
This man is also a good example for what the mission does. He has very few friends in Scotland, and between trying to learn English, study theology and make money in whatever way he can, he has little time to try and make friends. But he has come to the Mission for years and has always felt a sense of welcome and peace there. He's felt comfortable asking the volunteers for help and advice. It's been a blessing to see that it's more than just providing a meal and word of scripture to people coming in off the street: it's about providing a community and a place of rest.
God bless you,