The Open Door

Step in to meet the seeker waiting inside

My family and I had just arrived at our new assignment in the Middle east–a new country, a new culture.  I felt like a small child watching life carefully, observing every detail to know what was expected of me.  

That’s probably why in those first few days in our new home I noticed that our neighbor’s door was wide open every time I walked by.  Trying not to look too curious, I kept my glances quick.  The front room was always filled with people, much more than any family gathering.  Chairs lined the room where folk sat quietly.  Portraits of what looked like priests or bishops hung on the walls.  I wondered if our “neighbor” was actually a church.

By the third day, I gathered my courage to ask another neighbor what was happening.  She explained that the father of the home, who had been a high-ranking priest in their church, had just passed away and family and friends were paying their respects.  Then, without even a pause, she asked me if I’d be willing to visit the grieving family.

Even the thought was intimidating.   I had no idea how anything worked or what was expected of me.  Grief is such a sensitive, cultural experience that I knew I could easily offend.  But I couldn’t say no.  My wife and two boys promised to support me.

We must’ve looked a bit unusual standing quietly at their open door together; they were surprised to have foreigners come to show respect.  Graciously they welcomed us in and seemed to appreciate our attempt at a few Arabic words.

That’s when I first met Tony, a grown man grieving deeply over the loss of his father.  With tears in his eyes, he described his father to us as his best friend, his advisor.  He seemed to have so much on his heart I suggested we go out to dinner together just to continue our visit.  It was the beginning. 

Each time we met, Tony would open up more and more, sharing how deeply heartbroken he was in losing his father.  Each meeting gave us an opportunity to pray together  The prayers led to a deeper,  spiritual friendship.  Tony began asking questions.

“How can I know the will of God?”

“How can I hear His voice?”

“How can I deal with pain and suffering?”

“Why are you different than other Christians I know?”

I tried to answer with a simple scriptural thought.  The stronger our friendship, the more we talked about God’s Word.  As he began asking deeper questions, I suggested we study the Bible together.  He accepted!

Today we have weekly studies, and we’re learning about the beauty of the Sabbath, how God is able to save us, what happens when we die.

Tony has visited church twice with my family and even brought along a friend one week.  He has begun to keep the Sabbath.  Each Friday evening he joins us for sundown worship. He is growing.  Keep him in your prayers.   

I need your prayers too.  As we take this journey together, I am humbled that God is teaching me, perhaps as much as He is teaching Tony.   I’m learning how easily we slip past open doors, too cautious or intimidated or inadequate to step in and meet those who are longing to find hope in Him. –BM