Tuesday, July 7, 2015

A Tale of Two Hearts

After an exhausting day trip and a long night, we slept in a few extra hours. Every Sunday, an incredible, bustling market magically appears on a closed off street in the city. Blue tents and foot traffic span as far as the eye can see. Our last time there, I met a guy selling traditional clothes that we had been looking for. He was really welcoming and fun to talk to. He even gave me a discount for attempting to learn and speak his language to him. I hoped to see him again this week to thank him for his generosity with a J-film. But, in our stupor, we forgot to grab a DVD and assumed he had already packed up his gear. By this point, the market was only half full so we didn't even bother to walk out of the way to where he was last week. As we walked toward our destination, Stephen saw another team member and took a detour to tell her the lunch plans. It just so happened that our friend
had set up his tent in a new place and was still there selling clothes. He remembered me and we began to talk about his merchandise, language, and Ramadan. To my astonishment, he actually has the Bible app on his ipad and can read it in his language. On top of that, an American had shared with him before and one of his coworkers encouraged him to read the Word. Finally, to make my jaw go all the way to the ground, he told me we was seeking true religion and kept talking about our beliefs. I had his number from last time and we talked about meeting again to talk. After parting ways, I asked when we could meet he told me he would text me when he is free to learn more about my religion. Clearly, the Father has been pursuing and softening this man's heart. Meeting us was just another step in the process of him finding the truth. 

Later that afternoon, as we walked back towards our lodge, a man selling something stopped us. This was fairly common so we said hello, exchanged names, and grabbed a seat to talk with him. We had already seen great things in the morning so this encounter would surely be even better than the last one right? Wrong. Actually, he was selling alms cards for the mosque. He explained them and then said they weren't for us which made me wonder why he stopped us in the first place. But, we didn't want to skip over a chance to share. After a long time of listening to him explain things to us, we kindly asked to share our beliefs with him as well. As Stephen began to tell the story, the man interrupted and talked for a while again. Stephen smiled and began again. Just as before, the man interjected and ranted even longer. This cycle continued for two hours and of course people walking by gave plenty of odd looks to us. Several times I wanted to leave because it felt like we were getting no where miserably slow. All I could do was lift up the situation asking for wisdom and patience. He wouldn't answer our questions or listen to us. Finally, after so much frustration, we decided to leave and say goodbye. I doubt that he really wanted to see us again and honestly I felt the same way towards him. He was rude, we were mad, and for a long time I couldn't stop dwelling on the conversation. 

As I reflected on the entire day, I noticed some things. Two men heard the same story from us. But, we experienced vastly different responses. One was receptive and inquisitive while the other was brash and domineering. I remembered that we are not in control of how people react to us. We are only in control of our attitudes and willingness to share. In one man, we could see a chain of events in which the Father was working on his heart. Others had already pulled weeds and planted the seed and we watered it. The second man is loved by the Father just like the first but in a far different place. That difficult encounter was the first link in the chain of events drawing him to the Father. We must trust that others will be put in his path to water the seed and pull weeds. Both hearts need Him and we are thankful that now both have heard and we ask you to lift both of them up.

Request for the first man to continue seeking truth and being willing to meet with us. 
Ask the Father to soften the second man's heart and open his eyes.
Lift us up to keep sharing and meeting people in need.