by Kevin, University DTS student
I stood on the shore in far east Asia, talking to God about this nation that had shut itself off from the rest of the world. I was surrounded by some of the most beautiful country I had ever seen. I stepped into the ocean, letting the waves play against my ankles. I dug my feet in, burying them in the sand. As the waves crashed in and then receded, they pulled away the sand and revealed my feet. God used that picture of the waves revealing my feet underneath to explain to me the significance of our international team being here, and that I would understand the significance even more as we left the country–that truth would be revealed as our team pulled away from the shores.
Children who grow up here are taught at a very young age that foreigners are the enemy. We certainly felt suspicion and distrust at the border and as we were under surveillance the whole time we were here. But my infant son, whom we were told was probably the youngest American to ever enter this country, bonded with our tour guides and bus driver in such a surprising way. One particular guide really enjoyed him. He loved to kiss him on the cheek and even gave Micah his watch to take home.
It was at the border as we left the country that I understood the significance of what God showed me that day at the beach. The border guards were going through our belongings, counting the pages in our Bibles to be sure we hadn’t left any behind, deleting any photos from our cameras that showed the country in a negative light, and weighing our bags to be sure they weighed precisely the same amount as when we entered. When it was time to say goodbye to our tour guides, I saw something I never expected. The guide who had bonded so strongly with my son gave him a kiss on the cheek. And as he kissed Micah goodbye, this man, who had been taught to hate foreigners, wiped away tears from his eyes.
I looked straight in his eyes when I said goodbye. They were still glassy with tears. In his eyes I saw desperation. Desperation for hope, for love, for freedom. And desperation to believe in something that was true.
Photo credit: Brian Auer