A shadow fell over my table. Looking up, I saw that a young woman stood beside me with her eyes cast down. Quickly, before I could speak, she asked me something I have not been able to set aside.
“Sir, when you go home, will you take me with you?”
Stunned, I was not sure I had heard correctly. Again, “When you go home, will you take me with you?” I quickly prayed for guidance and wisdom, then softly asked: “Why do you want to go home with me?” There were tones of sorrow and helplessness in her answer. “I want to go to school and be someplace where the men don’t just want to sleep with me.”
My heart broke at her openness, “Lord, help me?” Carefully, I began, “Mary (not her name), even if I wanted to take you home with me, it is impossible. I have a wife at home that I love madly and a family of my own to care for. Besides, you would need a passport and visa. Many other details would need to be worked out. There is no way that I can do what you are asking.” Continuing, “I don’t understand why a loving God planned for me to be born in America with all of its privilege and wealth, and you were born here in Accra, Ghana. I believe He has a plan for both of our lives. What do you know about God?” Furtively, she looked around and said, “I am supposed to be working now.” “Before you go back to work, can I pray for you?”, I asked. She nodded and with her head bowed, listened while I spoke with God, asking that He bring her into a saving and personal relationship with Him through Jesus. When I was finished, she quietly thanked me and walked away. Later that evening, I saw her across the room at work. Our eyes met briefly. After that, I never saw her again.
It is hard to imagine the kind of life this young woman experiences every day. Harder still, is coming to grips with the disparity between my life here in the USA and those who are impoverished in so many ways around the globe. I’m not just talking about physical resources, but also the viral infection that began in the Garden with the serpent’s accusation of God’s motives with His command to not eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.
Sin has infected humanity so deeply that most of us simply have no idea the extent to which it influences us in our thoughts, words, and actions. This is true even for those of us who have placed our faith and trust in Messiah Jesus for our salvation. Positionally, we were crucified, buried, and resurrected with Yeshua. Experientially, the old man clings tenaciously to the new, desperately trying to pull each of us back into his crowded grave.
Thinking and praying through what had happened with Mary, I came to realize some important truths. She and the other staff had watched me and my team members around the hotel as we came and went each day. We made every effort to actively engage with those that were looking after our needs. There was never anything untoward implied in our brief conversations with any of the staff. I believe that in us, Mary saw something safe, trustworthy, and caring. I pray that she saw in us something of what the disciples saw in Jesus, compassion for the “weary and heavy laden.” People wanted to be where Jesus was, and so they followed Him wherever He went. It was natural for them to want to be with Him.
“In My Father’s house there are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also (John 14:1-3).”
When Jesus lives in us, He continues to be among the lost people of His creation. If we walk in this broken world as the new creation we now are, then people will see us and want to be with us. But, it is not us they are attracted to. It is Jesus in us. As we grow in Him, others like Mary will be taught not by what we say, but through what they see us do as we live our lives out in front of them. If we are faithful, some will ask the same question Andrew and John once asked Jesus, “Teacher, where are you staying?”
The reason we are still here, and the reason that Messiah Jesus has not yet come for us, is that there are yet others who He still wants to take home to be with Him. While she may not yet know it, isn’t that the home Mary really wants and needs?