by Grace, DTS student, in an Asian nation closed to Christianity.
The deafening engines thrummed and the plane surged down the Chicago runway. We were about to fly to the opposite side of the world, to a country I’ve been afraid of visiting.
In that still, small voice I’ve come to know, God reminded me of a moment when I was a little girl, staring out the back window of the car. That little-girl-me wanted to visit this country and love her people. God reminded me how much He loves them, that they are his children, too.
When we got off the plane and toured the city for the first time, I was intimidated by the vastness of the city, the height of the buildings. Nine million people call this place home. It’s a number I can hardly wrap my mind around. I’m not a city girl at all. I’ve been known to tell my friends that being in any city makes me feel like a caged cat. I wasn’t prepared for the pollution, either, or of the sight of people walking around wearing face masks, or of the constant haze that turns the world ashen grey and leaves a grimy film on everything.
But if I look closely, I can find the beauty of God amidst the dusty haze. Sometimes the sun pierces through the smog and I can see the outline of mountains stretching across the horizon. They are blurry from pollution, but still they give me hope.
I’ve found beauty in friendship and fellowship, too. When we had church in a yellow hallway this Sunday, our worship was accompanied by guitar and cello. I realized that our worship didn’t only connect me with God and those with me that morning, but it also connected us to all the other Christians worshipping around the world. Suddenly I felt close to my mother knowing that she was worshipping back home, and my DTS friends on the other outreach teams were worshipping God in four more countries. We weren’t so far apart after all.
I found beauty in new friendships I’m making, too. Since it is illegal to openly preach, our way of sharing the Good News happens over discussions and answering peoples’ honest, often soul-searching questions.
One day, in a small bookstore on the fifth floor, I found myself in a discussion with a girl about the book Jane Eyre. She wanted help understanding some English phrases. But soon, her questions turned toward asking me about God and wanting to know how to live her life in a way that would please him. Like the other college students there, she wanted to know how to balance living for God with the pressures from her parents and culture. She, like so many of us, wanted hope and friendship. For that moment, in that bookstore, she found answers and friends. And that was beautiful!
I realized I can learn a lot from these curious, quick interactions in a place so different from home. Sometimes life surprises you–like me being in this country that I was once scared of–and the beauty that is found in chance conversations and friendships is something to hold on to.
There is beauty to be found in the unlikeliest of places. There is always beauty everywhere. Sometimes, you just have to look for it.