Sunday, September 23, 2012

Divine Appointments

Frodo: “I wish the ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened.” 

Gandalf: “So do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us. There are other forces at work in this world, Frodo, besides the will of evil. Bilbo was meant to find the Ring. In which case, you were also meant to have it. And that is an encouraging thought.” The Fellowship of the Ring

“Did you hear that?” Lauren said. “I don’t know what you are talking about” I replied. She continued, “I think somebody knocked on our door.” I went on to tell her how it was 11 PM on a Friday night and it is past her bedtime because she is starting to hear things that don’t exist. Then I heard it but this time it was much louder. Perplexed I went to the door and was about to open it but decided first to look through the peephole as I thought it would be wise. What came before my eyes was the oddest thing, one very tall and lanky white man and standing next to him was a short Asian man both of whom I have never met before.

With a bit of hesitation I opened the door and my face said it all. So the Asian man asked me in broken English if I had seen a boy along this hall at all. Immediately I asked how old he was and was about to put on my shoes to go help them find this lost child. Then the tall white man with an Irish accent clarified what he meant and said he was looking for a man (male) who knew that this Asian man was coming to stay with him and if I happened to know what flat (apartment for all my American friends J) he was in. I told them that I just into our place about two weeks ago and I didn’t know who that was. I told them I would help them find Private Ryan so we could accomplish the mission. We introduced ourselves to each other. The Asian man’s name was Wei and the Irish man’s name was William.

It turns out that the Wei had just arrived to Oxford a couple of days before this and some other friend back in China gave him Private Ryan’s contact info and flat number on a paper but he lost it. So he decided to knock on every single flat in the complex (all 100 of them) at 11 PM at night until he found this guy. So what about our Scooby Doo looking Irish friend William? He said he was on his way to get his laundry and he saw Wei standing outside our complex (you need a card to get in) in the rain with his entire luggage yelling Private Ryan’s name out. He assured me he wasn’t pulling my strings and said he was going to call security (he’s from Ireland) because he doesn’t naturally trust people. He went with his instincts though and asked Wei what was going on. So he decided to help.

Out of all the flats I was the first one they knocked on and now we went knocking about on other ones. Only one other person opened their door out of the 15 or so flats we knocked on. It was getting late and frankly we were all getting tired so we thought it best to have him stay with one of us. So William and I did best out of three in “Rock, Paper, Scissors” to see who’s floor Wei was sleeping on. Just kidding, I told Wei to just stay with me and we will find this guy he has never met tomorrow. Wei felt like he was a nuisance and told us he would just sleep outside in the rain like a homeless man. We kept insisting that he wasn’t a bother and that we aren’t going to let him sleep outside. After about five minutes of trying to convince him that he can stay with us I told him I was going to call the police on him if he tries to sleep outside our complex so when he heard the word police he finally cracked a smile the first time all night and agreed to stay with us.

When we got back my wife made everyone tea and we got to learn more about our new friend. It turns out Wei is a visiting student from a university in Harbin, China. He is working on a research project for three months at Oxford University and will receive his doctorate next June. He is only a couple of years older than me and he is married. So much compassion came over my soul for him because of how difficult this move must be for him. English isn’t his first language, his flat won’t be available for another week, he doesn’t know anybody in this country, he won’t see his wife for three months, and one of the first people he meets in Oxford is me. No wonder he didn’t want to stay with us, he must have realized how deranged I am. After hearing more of his story we finally decided to hit the sack and said we will find this guy tomorrow.  

Lauren and I have been praying for God to bring people into our path to share the gospel with. I truly believe Wei is one of those people. The next day he found this guy and was so grateful that we took him in the night before that he wanted to take us to a Chinese restaurant sometime in the next couple of weeks. I told him that sounds like a plan and that I would love for him to come and visit our church once he settles in. He said he wants to come. Then he gave us a really cool Chinese artifact that he picked up in Beijing that is meant for good luck and happiness. 

God is sovereign and brings people into our lives at some of the most inconvenient times but we need to be willing to serve and help people. In The Weight of Glory, C.S. Lewis states, "There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, and civilizations - these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit - immortal horrors or everlasting splendors." Earlier he says, "All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations." Oh how much more people matter to God than we see. Help us Lord to remember that every human we come across was created by you and that their souls are eternal. Church, we need to repent and love people.


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