Saturday, March 08, 2014

Tired of saying, "I'm sorry..."

This happened several years ago but I am just getting around to posting it:

One of the things I hate the most about this ministry is how many times a week I have to say to refugees, "I'm sorry..."  ("I'm sorry we don't have any more pampers for your baby", "I'm sorry we don't have a place for you to sleep", "I'm sorry shower time is over", "I'm sorry we don't have work for you", "I'm sorry we cannot give you money", "I'm sorry" "I'm sorry" "I'm sorry").

One evening it seemed I was saying it so many times that I went to HIDE in the office. I wasn't in there 30 second when there was a knock on the door.  It was Rawah, one of our Arabic translators.  He (not I) opened the door and poked his head in, saying, "Scott, there's a guy here who needs medical help."  I replied, "Rawah, you know we cannot help people medically.  Please tell him that yourself!"  Just then the young man poked his head in the door next to Rawah so I invited them both in to sit in the office with me.

The young Kurdish man entered the office agitated, expectant.  Rawa, one of our Iraqi volunteers, translated the Kurd's flood of Arabic words.  "He says he needs medicine," Rawa said.  The Kurd leaned over and pulled his shirt up, unwrapping an abdominal brace to reveal a back laced with scars.  "He only has one kidney," Rawa translated.    Then he removed one of his shoes to display another physical malady, and the small office suddenly reeked of a misshapen foot that most likely hadn't been washed in a very long time.

"Tell him," I said to Rawa, "that I'm very sorry, but we can't do anything for him unless he has a prescription, and even then we may not be able to help him."

The Kurd, named Ariwah, continued speaking, even though the interpreter was the only one
who could understand, but the tone of his voice, the pleading of his eyes conveyed his desperation anyway.

"How old is he?" I asked.

The young Kurd's voice broke as he replied.  Rawa translated, "Twenty-six...and he misses his family."

"Tell him I'd like to pray for him," I said.  "I'm so sorry that there's nothing I can do for him except to pray , but somehow the answer to his problems are in God.  Even though the Kurd couldn't understand the English words used, he seemed touched that someone showed compassion as God broke my heart and opened my tear ducts.

"He says, thank you very much," translated Rawa as I shook  Ariwah's hand after the short prayer.  The young man wrapped his brace back around his waist and walked out of the office looking subdued, depressed.

"Thank me for what?" I asked, "I'm not able to do anything.  I wish there were something I could do."

After the tea and bread had been served, the young Kurd was one of a handful of men who stayed later to watch the end of the Jesus video playing loudly in his own dialect.  Then he found Daniel, our Kurdish translator, and the two of them approached me, Ariwah wearing a big smile on his face.  "He wants to tell you," Daniel said, "that he thanks you for your kindness to him.  He doesn't want anything from you.  He only wants to tell you thank you because the tears of a Christian make him want to put his faith in Jesus."

Then Ariwah turned and entered the Seeker's Class.

Two weeks later I saw him and asked how he was doing.  With a joyful expression he recounted the events from the day we met. “I didn’t tell you on that day, but after you prayed for me all of the pain left my body.  But what led me to Jesus were your tears for me.  Now I am following Jesus…I have been baptized and am studying the Bible with someone…Nobody will ever turn me away from Him because He is the Truth.”

1 comment:

EUtopia said...

Hi Scott,

My name is Harald Köpping and I am a PhD researcher from Liverpool. Great work on your blog. I share your concern for asylum seekers and your passion for Jesus.

At the moment I am writing my PhD on the experience of asylum seekers with European integration. I am coming to Athens for doing some field research on April 1. One of the problems I am facing is that I want to visit refugee camps to interview refugees for my research. Do you think you could help me at all?

Would be great to hear back from you!