Imagine arriving in a war torn country wearing a money belt wrapped around your waist containing all the cash you had to live on for the next undetermined amount of time you would be there. Thousands of dollars. You know no one. You don't speak the language. You clearly are an outsider. You look out the window of your airplane and see the military holding World War II machine guns, and they are patting people down. Corruption is rampant. Worst case scenarios start running through your head.
This is the situation my dad found himself in when he first arrived in Romania in 1991. He nervously made it through the security check and went on his way. My mom would be arriving within a few days, and she too would be greeted the same way.
After a month of living there, with two children now in tow, it was time to leave. As they were leaving, they were stopped again by a soldier carrying a machine gun. This time was different. This soldier wasn't just going about his security duties. He took a special interest in them.
"You are American?"
"Can I have a dollar?"
Here was a man who lived in a broken economy. He was surrounded by corruption and poverty. He knew that people had nothing. Asking a question like this could have cost him his job. But he recognized the outsiders, and he knew they had something of value. He just wanted a piece of it.
Of course they gave him over and beyond just the simple dollar that he asked for.
This was one part of the story that always intrigued me about my parents' journey to Romania to adopt me. A moment that spoke volumes about the desperation of the people in the midst of and immediately following the Communist regime.
But what if I told you that this encounter isn't just limited to a soldier holding a machine gun in a post Communist country. What if this was something that we could be faced within our everyday lives?
"Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain."
1 Peter 3:15
We live in a world that is filled with corruption.
Filled with brokenness.
Living in spiritual poverty.
As Christians, we stand out. We are the outsider. And we carry something of great value: hope.
God has generously filled our lives with His grace.
His steadfast hope fills our hearts.
Over and beyond what we ever could have asked for.
Others are watching us. They recognize us as Christians. Not everyone will ask - but there will be some who see something different about us, know the desperation that this world gives, and say "I want what you have."
When they ask, will you be ready with an answer?
Will you generously give that which has been given to you?