Sitting up on the hillside, I watched the sun come up, turning the sleepy sea into a pot of gold. The light kissed the day awake with each stretch of sunshine over the campsite. I had made my trek up to the prayer tent to bring that day of Refugee Family Camp before the mercy seat of the Lord. For an hour most mornings, I prayed for staff and volunteers by name, and campers by face because I am the worst at remembering Persian and Afghan names. I read the promises of Jesus as King and Priest, as the Way, the Truth, the Life over tents and cabins from the elevation of the seaside hill, hoping that though I was out of earshot, the proclamation of Truth would permeate the hearts and minds of those seeking freedom from Islam.
I've always been equally curious and a lover of surprises. I remember on my seventh birthday, watching my mom place presents wrapped in princess wrapping paper out for my wide eyes to see. I was overcome with excitement to know what was inside, spinning in my birthday dress, I would ask, "Oooh! What is that?!" Pacifying my curiosity without ruining the surprise my mom would smile with all the answers in her eyes and say,
"Hide and watch."
My friends, this is precisely what the Lord is teaching me in faith, to hide and watch what His Sovereign hand is doing.
During my first week or so in Athens, I had the opportunity of sitting in on a couple of English lessons. I was placed in a conversational group of women. We talked through the story of Jacob and Leah, and following that was light conversation about our families. The women in my group all had children, and when they asked me if I had any, I told them no, but was able to pull out a sweet drawing from my Bible carefully created by a 6 year old boy that has stolen my heart. When conversation died a little, I asked about the piece of paper in one of the women's hands. To my surprise it was a pamphlet about Christianity. "Do you believe Jesus is a prophet or more?" one woman asked me. I smiled softly and replied, "More," and immediately began praying for words. "Why?" she probed. I gave an answer that was not as sufficient as I would have hoped, but declared the gospel to the best of my abilities. I could write you a killer exegesis on Ephesians 5:17, but explaining why I believe Jesus is more than a prophet? Not so much. Yet, I sought from wise minsters of the gospel, men and women who answer this question everyday, and prayed for these precious women I had the opportunity to meet.
Fast forward to Refugee Family Camp. My main jobs were helping to teach and run women's archery and holding infants during worship and discussion times. I was handed a beautiful baby girl by another staff member. She was a little fussy, but very sleepy. With some careful rocking, she fell asleep in my arms. I prayed over this sweet baby, for her parents and siblings, that their hearts would be softened to the gospel of Jesus. I prayed that she be well-behaved during the week, and that her family would see the peace of Christ through her. After discussion groups, her mother came to pick her up, and she was the very same woman who asked me "why?" nearly a month earlier.
Each worship time for the remainder of the week, that same mother would bring her sweet little girl to me, sleepy after having eaten, to rock to sleep while she listened to and discussed the Biblical truths being taught to her. She would giggle at me as I took her baby with sheer delight, and she would tell me in broken English that I could be the baby's mother now, with how much I've held her. Each morning before the Lord, I would intercede for this family, and every evening both husband and wife would leave their segregated discussion groups last, after having asked the most questions about Jesus. They were truly seeking.
The way these camps are ordered, is that families that frequent different ministries around Athens, not just for the care they receive, but because they are people of peace, seeking Truth, and placed into a pool, from which they are invited to join the week of camp. The very women who are learning English in the context of Christianity are involved in so many other ways as the Holy Spirit makes the soil of their hearts soft and fertile. And here was this beautiful baby in my arms, whose parents and sister and aunt I've been praying for, who are were all searching for Peace, for Truth, for Jesus.
By the faithfulness of the Lord, I had the opportunity to see how He is working in the lives of so many in Athens. What could have been an insignificant encounter on just another "work day," was so much more! It was seven-year-old Sarah twirling and asking the Lord, "What's in store?" Caring for that sweet baby as her mother's heart is being moved by the gospel is pieces of princess wrapping paper falling to the ground.
I want to ask you to join in prayer for this family, as they have not accepted Jesus yet, but are so close to giving their all to our Lord and King. The anticipation causes butterflies to fill my heart, but friends, partner with me as we hide and watch what our Lord is doing.
I look forward to updating you further on Operation Joshua! The busiest month of my summer internship has come to a close. The following weeks will be spend in more rhythmic time, serving women and children at a refugee center. Please pray for rest the next couple of days and a servant heart to begin the next season of the summer!