Our church strives to be a church of community groups and not a church simply with community groups. What that means is that we strongly encourage people to step out of their comfort zone and cultural isolationist mentality and meet weekly with others to ‘do’ life together.
Last night, our community group invited a couple from another country to join us in a meal and fellowship. As the woman turned the corner and entered our living room, I was taken a back by her beauty. By her bright eyes and illuminating smile. I knew that such loveliness could only come from a deep place within her as their story has been a difficult one. I blurted out, “You look beautiful tonight,” because I could not help myself. She giggled and thanked me graciously.
As we ate, we did what we normally do. We just talked. And laughed. And listened to one another. We talked about movies, food, and listened to our new friends tell us about their occupations in their former life. The life that they left behind.
Over dessert, someone asked them to tell us how they came to be in America.
The man began to share their story. As he spoke, we were all taken up into a larger story that was difficult to envision or comprehend. He was very humble and quiet as he used words like genocide, refugees, loneliness, sickness, murder, and fear.
Ironically, his smile and laugh were as infectious as his wife’s, though his eyes did bear the marks of having seen much loss and horror.
My favorite part of the evening, was when they told us how they met. He became giddy and blushed as he spoke of hearing her voice on the telephone for the first time. I understood what he meant because her voice is musical, like a song. And she too, could not contain her pleasure in recalling their time of courting. In their world, they should not be together. But, in God’s world they were made for one another.
I sheepishly admit being a little nervous about having them over, simply because of the language barrier between us. But, I am so thankful that I was able to move beyond my comfort zone for an evening that I felt was a gift.
After they left, a few of us commented on the fact that we wished someone had been writing it all down. Even though it is not time for their story to be public, I will always remember them as a people full of beauty and of courage. And whose love for God….changed me.
Things I would have never known or experienced if I had stayed inside my comfort zone.
***Please do not use the specific names of these people if you feel compelled to comment***