Is my life so safe? Theirs so dangerous?
It was just meant to be an icebreaker question: Had they ever been in danger? Had God protected them?
Gideon (a Christian from Ghana, West Africa) and “Q” (a Muslim displaced from Syria) are in one of my small Bible Study groups. We have forged several good discussions this semester, meeting via ZOOM, as both are taking their early grad courses online and still in their home countries – due to travel restrictions. Gideon studies finance; Q, information technology.
I met both of them through our English-language-skills-building-club called English Corner. It is there that I can help students, build friendship and earn trust. In January, they both asked to do Bible Study with cross-cultural discussion. And I knew them both well enough to know they’d function well together, despite differences.
So, this was our second meeting. In the first, we had listed attributes of God (Allah, to Q.) And we actually found a fair amount of common ground. And since they both emphasized God’s oversight and providence, I came up with my icebreaker for meeting #2: Had they ever actually experienced God’s protection? I thought this would get us beyond the abstract, and might allow us to know each other better; I also thought it might be too ambitious or too personal. But if it was either, it was yours truly who was taken aback when they answered.
Gideon went first – and told of a time when walking home from high school, through a forested area. Suddenly, and without noticing at first, he had walked directly into an “ambush.” That was his word. It was a kind of gang. If you know anything about West Africa at present – especially, lately, Nigeria – these very bad groups will rob, beat violently, kidnap, and extort. Sometimes, Christians are targeted.
But he just kept walking. Slowly. Praying. He saw them. But did they see him? He was right in the middle of them.
But they didn’t move. They didn’t seem to notice. In Gideon’s mind, it was the intervention of God’s angels. (Oh, yes, modern Westerners, the African brothers and sisters have no qualms in acknowledging the unseen world.)
Q’s turn was next. I mentioned already: He and his family are Syrian refugees, living now in an area of “Palestine.” He doesn’t use the word, “camp,” … but, well, it’s not a resort. Happily, he has good wi-fi.
Q told of his family’s flight from Syria several years back. Driving south, at high speed, they were leaving all behind for the safety of the border with Jordan. However, at a certain point, the road was the dividing line between two factions. Bullets were flying at their car. Remarkably, no one in the car was shot. He credited this to divine protection.
My turn was next. I would share about being on vacation once in Colorado. Climbing rocks with my children. And reaching a ledge that we could have fallen off. But with God providing “a cleft in the rock,” we escaped safely.
So… what would you have contributed? Mine seemed small. I concluded: The God who blinds attackers and shields from bullets is also available for child care – and dad care – once upon a time in my family’s story.
You are a shield around me, O Lord,
…I will lie down and sleep…
because the Lord sustains me.
I will not fear the tens of thousands
drawn up against me on every side…
from the Lord comes deliverance! (Psalm 3)
like you, trusting God, our Savior and Protector,
Bob and Barb
We thank you sincerely for your faithful prayers,
ministry support, and encouragement.
With our gratitude, we send along much love.