Elizabeth was part of our team living in Athens for two months this summer.
I have been back in America for a week now, and my thoughts are constantly returning to the friends I left in Athens. So many of these moments and relationships are cherished in my heart – many of them in a tiny church building. On my last Sunday morning in Athens, I sat listening to an English translation of a Greek service through a spotty headset. The room was full of people I knew and loved, and I hated to part from them when I returned home. It felt like a family.
The majority of these friends were Afghan and Syrian Muslims – people I would have never expected to find in a Christian church service two months prior. According to our media and the killings of ISIS, this setting should be impossible. Christians and Muslims sitting in a room listening to a sermon and sharing food together? No way. But, Jesus doesn’t listen to the media or the loud noises of opinions fueled by fear. He defies all odds in His work, and that is what makes Him so amazing. He has silenced the voice in my head that said Muslim hearts were unreachable. It was the voice that told me ministry to them would be pointless and that it required people much braver than I am. In response to these fears, I found hearts that were open and desirous for love.
I realized that morning as I sat among friends that I had been given a glimpse into the courts of heaven. Unified by love, friendship, and trust, we were, on a small scale, people from all nations gathered in the presence of God. It is this unity that is so beautiful and lacking in our world today. This worldwide crisis full of injustice and heartbreaking stories has been transformed into a platform for gospel love to break through. In drawing these refugees to our borders, God has worked in spite of evil to answer generations of prayer – prayers for these people to be reachable. Should we respond to this crisis as an answer to prayer or a threat to our safety?
Although I miss my friends and ache at the possibility of never seeing many of them again, I have learned a valuable lesson through our friendship: I must not let the confusion and turmoil of this world prevent me from catching glimpses into Heaven.