Pray 4 Me
But now, this is what the LORD says–He who created you, Jacob, He who formed you, Israel: Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I summoned you by name; you are Mine (The Prophet Isaiah 43:1–NIV).
We don’t always know how or why certain things happen or why our paths cross with particular people’s. We may listen for the voice of prophets in our church pews only to discover them in unlikely places.
Such was the case one morning recently–when Bill called for an Uber to drive us from our hotel in downtown Seattle to the Royal Caribbean port where we would embark on a week-long Alaskan cruise.
I wasn’t listening for any divine message at that moment; just anticipating our upcoming anniversary trip with great excitement. Our luggage loaded, our driver welcomed us warmly, and we headed out.
Perhaps five minutes into our drive, Bill inquired, “Where are you from?”
The driver, who hadn’t said much, replied with a strong accent, “Afghanistan.”
“Oh,” Bill said. “What brought you to America?”
Without hesitation, he spoke freely. “I worked for the U.S. military. I’d been assisting them for awhile. One day, a woman I knew asked me to have coffee.” He paused and smiled, remembering. “That’s what Americans do when they want to talk,” he continued with a chuckle. “Anyway, she told me it was time for me to go to America. To start a new life. Before long, everything was set into place, and… well… here I am.”
“How long have you been here?” Bill asked.
“A year and seven months,” he said. “I’m working hard so that I can bring my family to American too.”
We were silent for a moment, and then Bill said, “I heard an NPR All Things Considered broadcast some time ago–years even. It was an interview with several Afghani farmers who’d assisted the U.S. military. They feared our soldiers being pulled out–leaving them and their families targets for extreme Islamic terrorists. It was very disturbing, very sad.”
“Yes, and it is true,” our driver went on. “If you work for Americans, the Taliban and other extremist groups are very angry.” He paused then, lost in his own thoughts–perhaps determining how much he should say. Then, “I saw a Facebook Live video not long ago. It was about an Afghani man who’d worked as an American interpreter with the military. He angered the Taliban, and they called him in and ordered that he stop. He told them he would, but he didn’t. It was his livelihood, after all. Some weeks later, he was ordered to meet with them again. This time, he arrived, and the extremists bound him and then made him watch as they killed his entire family. They left him alive to suffer his great loss, and he now lives on the streets–an addict and alone. That’s what happens to many who help the U.S. military. Despite the dangers, they do it because it’s what they believe to be the best thing. The right thing. That was me,” he paused. “I guess I’m one of the lucky ones. I’m proud to be in America,” he concluded.
The silence in his car felt heavy after that prophetic word–That’s what happens to many who help the U.S. military. Despite the dangers, they do it because they believe it to be the best thing. The right thing…
Bill asked him his name, but for his protection we will just call him Mursalin (meaning, message-bearer). He continued, “I am a moderate Muslim, but I have friends of many faiths–Christians, Jews, and others. I am thankful to be here, and I hope I can bring my family soon.”
We arrived at our destination, but we weren’ thinking about our opulent upcoming trip. Instead, we had a simple man whose name is known to God–who is loved by God–on our hearts and minds, and we were thankful for this divine appointment.
Before we got out of his car, Bill asked Mursalin, “May we pray with you before we leave?”
At first, he looked confused, “What is that?” he asked.
Bill repeated, “Would you mind if we prayed with you before we leave?”
He understood then, and despite our religious differences, he said without hesitation, “Oh, yes. Please.”
We all bowed our heads. I wondered if Mursalin had ever had anyone pray like this over him, with him–a mom or a dad. Perhaps this was the very first time. I gently placed my right hand upon his shoulder, and he instantly reached up and took it in his, holding it tightly.
Bill prayed in the powerful name of Jesus–asking for Mursalin’s protection, for blessing upon his life, thanking God for this man’s faithfulness. He concluded by asking for protection for his family, that God would bring them to America in His perfect timing.
When we looked up, we each had tears in our eyes–so powerful that moment.
We retrieved our luggage then, but before walking away, we all hugged one another, and Mursalin thanked us over and over, in earnest.
We will likely never see this man again–though we can pray for him. And we ask that you do the same, please–in Jesus’ powerful name.
Dear Jesus, you created–yes, formed–this man, and you call him by name, saying, “You are Mine.” And he is. We pray he won’t be afraid or lonely. We thank you for his courage and–even though he may be unaware of their power–his prophetic words. May we learn from him–choosing each day to do that which is right, even when it’s dangerous. Choosing to speak the words you give us to say, even when it’s difficult. May we each be your messengers, and may we heed your messages–even when they’re offered by those who differ from us. Like this man, may we, too, be thankful for the freedoms afforded us in this country. And may God bless America to be a blessing to the world.
In your sweet name, Jesus…