31 Days:: A Simple October Night
Day 24: A Simple October Night
During the Fall of 1996, I saw God in ways I had never seen before.
A few months after I graduated from high school, I flew over to Kona, Hawaii to participate in a training school hosted by Youth With a Mission, an international missionary group whose purpose is simply “To know God and to make Him known.” I was excited beyond belief. For over a year, I and my family had saved up to pay for my flight and tuition for this school. I would spend three months taking classes in Kona and then head over to Costa Rica for a three-month-long outreach to Costa Rica with a group of my fellow classmates. I was eager to meet young men and women from all over the world, live in one of the most beautiful places on Earth, and get to explore God in a whole new way for the next six months.
I lived on campus in a dorm room with four roommates— two of the girls were from Korea and two were from British Columbia, Canada. None of us had ever met each other before. Our room was just a simple, brown-carpeted rectangle with 3 bunk beds, a small, wooden round table with four plastic chairs, a little hallway/kitchenette with a few cupboards and a tiny refrigerator, and a small bathroom with just enough room for the toilet and the stand-up shower. The west wall of our room was lined with tall windows facing the Pacific Ocean and the nightly sunsets. When we walked out our front door, on the opposite side of the room, we were standing on the railed landing that joined all the rooms on our level of the dormitory. Girls were on the second level of the building; guys took up the first floor. The landing outside our door overlooked a lush green grass with several palm trees, the kitchen and patio where we would eat all our meals, and the lecture hall where we showed up every morning for our daily lessons.
Each week a different speaker from somewhere in the world would show up and teach us about whatever he or she was passionate about. One week we heard from a man who operated a rescue mission for inner-city Los Angeles youth. Another week we got to hear stories from a man who lived with his family in the shadiest part of Amsterdam, where they held Bible studies and loved on the vast prostitute population there. Every day seemed to hold a new adventure or a new insight for me. My eyes were being opened to the world and to God’s great love in ways I had never before even considered.
On the roommate front, the five of us in Room 95 became fast friends, enjoying a level of camaraderie and independence we each were experiencing for the first time in our lives. One night during our first few weeks together, my roommates and I stayed up late talking about our lives and then praying together for awhile. As we sat on the floor in a circle, each taking turns praying in our own styles, and in our own languages, I was stunned with a new truth I had never thought of before: God was not an English-speaking, monolingual, clean cut, businessman from America. For the first time in my life, as I listened to my new Korean friends tearfully pour out their hearts to God in their native tongue, I realized, perhaps ridiculously, that English was not God’s first language— Love was. In fact, God was not bound by language at all. He simply listened to our hearts and, no matter where we lived or what our lifestyle was like or how we expressed ourselves, He understood our unique struggles and wanted to be part of our unique lives. That night, and so many others during my time in Hawaii, I realized that this God I thought I knew was much bigger and more mysterious than I had ever known.
It was such a seemingly simple moment in time. Just a group of 18 year olds praying together in a no frills dorm room— and yet the truth that took root in me that Hawaiian night has never waned. It has been nineteen years since that night— almost to the day— and I still see God’s beauty and His speechless language of Love woven into the hearts of all His various children, regardless of their cultural background, the words that come out of their mouths, or the color of their skin.
He hears us all. He cares about us all. And, most importantly, He is capable and willing to meet us wherever we are and He wants to be an integral part of our lives.
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What about you?
What seemingly insignificant moment in your life still sticks out in your memory? What truths does it remind you of?
Please feel free to share your journey in the comment section below.