While not a devotional in structure, I hope this reminiscent banter sparks inspiration, curiosity, and, most importantly, devotion to our wonderful God!
I remember standing alongside some Afghani soldiers near a small entry control point that separated two combined outposts. We were huddled together on the American side, and on the other side stood an Afghani building used to house Afghani soldiers. And by the looks of some logs laid out in an orderly fashion, I supposed troops used the area for mission briefings. Given the timbers and reasonably open space, this site was also a perfect spot for Catholic Mass–at least, it was for some of us.
You see, the military used local interpreters who would go onto the front-lines with troops and help communicate with the locals, and one of these local interpreters sat on a log, listening intently to the Chaplain’s homely. A handful of Afghani soldiers did not like this, and they made their displeasure known. They began to walk by and spit on him and angrily grumble amongst themselves at such blasphemy. To make matters worse, I’m confident they started talking about stoning him!
The young interpreter didn’t even flinch. He must have known what he was doing and overheard the angry talk, right? He was sitting in broad daylight right next to an Afghani outpost in a nation that persecutes Christians. And I mean legitimate persecution, not Facebook trolls, terrible Jesus Memes, and the occasional lousy pastor joke, actual persecution. Utterly unresponsive to the situation beginning to boil around him, his face was full of light, hope, and joy. I was perplexed, slightly tachycardic, and beginning to sweat; not quite the same thing.
But as they spat and threatened, he smiled and listened. And at 20 years old, I learned what it meant to stand up for my beliefs from a gentleman that sat down for his.
I trust that the interpreter sought protection with the American friends he made because I do not know what became of him after my Unit Ministry Team departed. All I know is that he was confident enough to sit in a land murderous towards the faith. And when he sat, he stood.