I was waiting tables when I met Chris. I was impressed because he gave me eye contact and was kind. He invited me to a beach party with his friends. I’m from Egypt and don’t know anyone here in Chicago, so I was interested but also scared. I didn’t know if I should go—would he abduct me? I called my mom, then I went to the party.
His friends were nice and did not kidnap me! They included me in conversations and invited me to a cookout. Soon, I began to feel at ease with all of Chris’s friends. At one cookout I parked in the wrong place and was given a ticket. All my new friends pitched in to pay the fines. I did not feel I could take this money, the car problem was my own fault. Chris explained it is a cultural honor for them to help me. He said it made them happy because of their faith in Jesus. I was shocked by their kindness.
One of the guys became a closer friend to me. His name is Peter. We started studying for the GRE together and also playing ping pong. He invited me to his house to hang out and he even invited me to his grandma’s home for Thanksgiving and Christmas. I went and learned about the birth of Jesus. I was overwhelmed at how beautiful this literature is. Each family member brought a small gift for me. These included a highlighter, a multi-tool and a hammock. I wept in front of them because I had never received so many presents in my life.
I have never learned about Jesus before, so I decided to read the Bible with Peter. When I needed a roommate, Peter introduced me to another friend who needed a roommate. Some other guys are helping me with my English. It was a great honor when they asked me to cook Persian food for them. My birthday was in February and I cooked for them again. We had a good discussion about God, and I asked them some questions I have been thinking about like, “Why would God create humans if He was already perfect and knew we would not be?”
I passed the GRE and was accepted to a graduate school in Denver. I see God in everything; all my turning points, friends, meals, and winning the lottery to come to the US. In two weeks time I will move to start my new life and I cannot wait for it to begin! I wonder who I will meet next?
On Your Own
One of the marks of God’s people is hospitality. As recorded in Ruth 2:10, in her own time of need, Ruth dropped to her knees, then bowed her face to the ground: “How does this happen that you should pick me out and treat me so kindly—me, a foreigner?”
- In your own story, who has welcomed you? What did that feel like?
- On the other hand, who are some of the people God has allowed you to welcome?
- Given today’s circumstances, has it become harder to meet new people? How can you find new people to invite to your community?
At the time “Chris” and “Peter” met their new friend, they were reading this book together: The 9 Arts of Spiritual Conversations: Walking alongside People Who Believe Differently by Mary Schaller and John Crilly.
**Names have been changed to protect confidentiality.