“The martyr’s remains were just shipped back to Egypt recently.”
“It’s all on YouTube. You can find the video there,” Maged explains.
“I don’t think I want to see that.”
Earlier this week, our Uber driver has just finished telling us about the twenty-one Christians from his city in Egypt who were beheaded by ISIS in Libya back in 2015. This is at the end of a conversation during a twenty-minute ride in Tampa where Lauren and I were blessed to get away for four nights to be refreshed and pray (thanks to our incredibly gracious parents).
As is my custom, I enjoy sitting in the front seat, so I can better converse with my driver. This was no different and before long, I had discovered he was from Egypt and soon we were talking about our faith. We had shared that the Lord was calling us to mission work in Africa, and Maged then disclosed that he too, is a Christian. Our questions turned to life as a Christian in Egypt, where his family still lives and he often visits. He opened up about the many hardships and persecutions Christians face daily, some of which factored into his transition from his family and home to settle in America. Then, he reminds me of the Christians he knew from his community, who moved from Egypt to Libya for better opportunities. As he recalls this event, he talks about the chance they were given to renounce their faith in Jesus Christ and be freed from their persecutors. Encouraged, I share how this is evidence of the Holy Spirit. For who would choose certain death over life unless empowered by the Holy Spirit through hope-filled faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ?
I get his number and send him links to a few resources he may find encouraging and share a blessing and our gratitude as we arrive at our destination.
In contrast, this conversation occurred two days before Independence Day, the Fourth of July. As we celebrate the many blessings of living in the United States of America, I think about Maged and his family. I think about the many brothers and sisters in Christ around the world that do not share the freedoms I have to exercise my faith without significant consequence.
Quickly, my mind turns to the opportunities I have because of this freedom, and then the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25:14-30. Each of these three servants knew the Master intimately and knew what He wanted from them. And each of these servants were given different resources, or opportunities, based on their abilities. Jesus shares that the first two, though given different resources, were faithful and rewarded by the Master upon his return. And the last, crippled by fear, buried his talent and did not do the will of his Master and is punished.
What am I doing with the opportunities God has given me? Am I sharing the love and peace and hope and faith I have with those around me who desperately need it? Or am I hiding that knowledge like the evil and lazy slave who buried his Master’s resources.
One day I will meet my Savior. I will stand and give an account of what I did with the resources and opportunities He gave me. I pray that with the Spirit working in me now, that day I will also hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant!”
This season is filled with preparations for our third baby arriving in weeks, finishing up church visits, and taking the first steps to prepare for our move to South Africa. We cherish your prayers as we plan our course, committing each step to the Lord. We need His provision of our final 10% of committed monthly support. We need His guidance as we set dates for me to finish working. We need His hand as we compile our visa application. We pray for His favor and blessing as we must head to Chicago to complete our application and submit our application. And we seek His direction and timing as we have now chosen a departure date. We are humbled and excited to share that we are targeting November 1st as the beginning of the next step in God’s journey for us. God’s plan is best, and we submit to it in this process as well. Lord willing, if He chooses to establish these plans, we will board a series of long plane rides with our new family of five and continue the privilege of serving our Lord in Cape Town. We are still in awe that God has brought us this far. Oh, what a privilege and what a great opportunity! May we be good and faithful servants!