It's one of my many "favorite things" about being a Christian. It's happened to me so many times now, you'd think by now I'd be used to it, but it always comes as a welcome surprise. I'm talking about the joy of meeting someone for the first time-- a new friend from another part of the world -- and discovering instantly how much you have in common because of the common bond you share in Christ.
My most recent experience of this joy began back in April on my last mission trip to Romania -- you know, the one I was supposed to blog but never did! -- I met Mateusz (Matthew) Wichary, his wife Beata and their friend "Chris", all from Poland. They'd heard about the work of HeartCry and were interested in attending a conference where we were teaching, so they drove down to Romania for the week (an amazing thing in itself!). From the beginning we fell into a warm and enjoyable fellowship as we traveled along all week in what for all of us was a "foreign" country. At the end of the week, "Mat" told me he would be coming to the states during the summer to work in his PhD at Southern Seminary. I told him to contact me when he did.
To make a long story short. He emailed me about four weeks ago when he got this side of the Atlantic, and we arranged for one of our former church members, Terry Delaney, a student at Southern, to bring him to Arnold, MO for the weekend so he could join us at Rockport (thanks Terry, for taking the time!).
That weekend has just finished, and what a time we've had, laughing at silly jokes, sharing ideas, and rejoicing together in the marvels of God's grace in Christ to sinners such as ourselves. And what fun to be able to introduce him to Saint Louis and the Arch - despite the 100 degree heat! -- and then to try and explain what all the celebrating was about when Miles popped a walk-off grandslam to beat the Padres at Busch Stadium while we were standing under the arch. Have you ever tried to explain baseball to a European who's never seen it played before?
Any way, I don't know if you'll read this, but Matt it was a joy for my family to have you here and to learn what God is doing among the small, but vital group of baptists who live and worship there, and to find out how very much we are alike, despite the miles and cultural differences that might separate us! And I'm grateful to God for giving me the chance over the years to meet dear brothers and sisters of our one family in Christ from so many different places around the world!
What a mercy!