Flatirons Men's Afghanistan Trip Day Six - Friday, April 27, 2012
TGIF. For real. Friday in Afghanistan (and for Muslims) is the sabbath. Afghans take the day off to spend time with family and go to the mosque. So, since this is their holy day, the rest of the ex pats on our mission partners staff have church on Friday too. It's their Sunday-Go-To-Meetin' Day. There was talk of going to a fellowship hall to join some of the other Christian ex pats (They call it Big Church), but our host thought it best to stay put. It was Victory Day here (The day Afghans celebrate their overthrow of the Soviets) and the streets were going to be packed with celebrants. So, we were going to have the privilege of doing church at the guest house (They call that Little Church).
We began the day like we have each morning here at the guest house with that day's devotional through Nehemiah. Peter, Jase, John, Kyle and I were already up and in deep in conversation by the time the other guys came into the living room at 6:30 AM. This has been the trend since we've been here. The attendance changes each morning, but the result is the same: a group of us sits in the living room, drinking strong coffee (or tea) delving into some deep (and some not-so-deep) topics. It's been a great way to connect with each other and learn what makes each other tick. Topics have varied from 5 Point Calvinism, the interpretation of end times scripture, and the challenges of being a believer in this country...to Best Guy Movies, favorite beers, and funniest Family Guy episodes ("Fabulous!"). It really depends on how many cups of coffee we've consumed. The devotion time today was different though. John Waters said it first, and Steve Yeager echoed his sentiment: The Friday's scripture and devotion was extra heavy. It was from Nehemiah 4, where the Israelites deal with oppression and are attacked at every turn. It created a lot of discussion and we had been at it for 45 min. when the staff cook waved us in for breakfast. We really weren't done yet, but we had to end the devotional time...or so I thought.
We quickly ate breakfast and before long, we were deep into another devotional time -- this one completely unplanned. I really can't detail what went on around the breakfast table without breaking confidences, but it was powerful! It was the most honest, vulnerable time we have had as a team. An hour into it...I just silently thanked God for what was happening...for orchestrating everything...for picking our team...for His perfect timing...and the powerful work He was doing in the hearts and lives of each of us...each broken, faulted children of God. There was great laughter and a few tears in the arc of our time together and we ended it in prayer. Oh man! It was already a heart-wrencher...and we hadn't even started Little Church yet!
The new director for our mission partner led Little Church. We held it right around the breakfast table. I have to admit, it felt more than a little awkward when we first started. No one there could play guitar, so we sang along to some praise music played through an iPod stereo system. Weird at first...but slowly...it seemed like the most natural thing to do. People took turns sharing scriptures or prayers in between the songs and it was amazing the way each verse or prayer was the perfect word or sentiment for the moment.
We can read in the Bible, in the book of Acts, about what it was like for the early church; meeting in secrecy, under great suspicion and oppression. The first church consisted of followers holding up in secret all over the region in various towns and cities where Christianity first started to spread. These early believers...these followers of Jesus...were like little lights scattered all over the known world...like stars in the night sky. Today, sitting around that table, awkwardly singing praise songs to a portable stereo, sharing the power of God's word, and feeling His presence in our prayer time as if He was sitting their with us...filling the room. It was what it must have been like for Peter, John, Philip and the rest of those early believers. And it was equally moving to think that there might be other believers doing the same thing...praising the same God...chasing after the same Jesus...other stars...other lights in the night sky of Afghanistan. All hanging by faith to the hope that one day... morning will come...and the sun will rise.
"When it is dark enough, you can see the stars." (Persian Proverb)