I sat in the back row, letting my eyes go over the staff that had gathered.
I noticed the age range. Many had obviously worked at Bethany Christian Services for a long time.
Others, more youthful, had only recently come onboard.
But all, young and older, men and women, were here because of their commitment to the work of mercy and compassion.
They had been invited to come and listen to the story of a co-worker, the story of extraordinary danger and breath-taking rescue. The story of God's grace.
I had heard the story more than a year earlier. As chair of the CALL (Calvin Academy for Life-long Learning) Public Events Committee, I had invited Dona Abbott, the Director of Bethany Christian Services for Kent County, to speak at our Noontime Series on the work with refugees. She took this young Vietnamese woman along who, as Refugee Service Supervisor, had her own story to tell.
The story of how a 17 year-old girl had escaped Vietnam on a poorly maintained fishing boat.
The story of how she had been spared, wondrously and unbelievably, from falling to her death, from being snatched and carried off by pirates to a fate worse than death, from being raped by camp guards.
The story of how she came to understand and believe later, safe in America and with a Christian family, that God had been present in her treacherous escape, enfolding her in his safe-keeping arms, and that he had a purpose for her life--to help others out of love and compassion.
The story of this Buddhist-raised woman stirred something in me.
Enough to seek her out after the presentation.
Enough to tell her that I would like to write her story.
Now, a year and a half later, I listened to her share the story with her colleagues.
Not only her story, but also her vision of a Christian orphanage in Vietnam, for which she has been praying and working and raising funds.
And I saw that they, too, her fellow workers, were deeply touched and inspired.
Afterward I wondered.
Had it been it the Spirit nudging me to talk to My-Yyen the first time we met?
Is that why the story was written and now finds itself in a book (Through Dark Places: True Stories of Human Tragedy, Faith, and Miracles)?
For that is how it was discovered by a Bethany reader, and that's how this chapel gathering became an occasion.
And that is how many there present wanted the book for themselves, to encounter the awesome presence of God's work in the lives of his choice, including the life of a young Buddhist girl who had never heard of God.
And that is how others who read her story may share in the blessing that her life has become, a life impelled by gratitude and servanthood.
That chapel blessed me too.
The Spirit's nudging will do that.
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
Dear God, We Are Your Singers
Dear God, we are your singers on this earth
we sing of peace, we sing of joy and light
we bring glad tidings of a Savior’s birth
to all who cry and suffer in the night.
We sing to those afflicted and in grief
we would lift up the brokenhearted ones
we sing of love, of hope, and of relief,
of restored lives and blessed innocence.
We sing to those chained in a prison cell
we sing the ancient prophet’s freedom song
we sing deliverance from a Satan’s hell
to all the lost who for salvation long.
We sing, we shout for all the world to hear:
take off your rags now, and put on the new
for night has ended, and the Lord is near
all that God’s promised will at last come true!
Therefore we sing, from sea to shining sea
with steadfast faith and with a holy mirth
let’s clear away the remnants of debris
and let’s begin to build our God’s new earth.
text: hjbaron [based on Isaiah 61]
tune: Genevan 124 [ PH 521: God of the Prophets]