James felt nervous as he walked across the car park. He had never been to an event like this before and was not sure what to expect.
A young woman about his own age stepped forward, smiled and welcomed him as he entered the foyer. She handed him a information pack and pointed to a row of screens where others were registering. He spent a couple of minutes entering his details, received his ID card and was relieved no one quizzed him on his reasons for coming.
There were dozens of displays in the exhibition hall, but James was interested in only one, the multi-media presentation on poverty and fair trade. It had caught his attention when he saw the advertisement in the university newspaper because it answered a question he had been pondering for some time. He was enjoying his papers on global trade, international politics and poverty but he wanted another perspective. He needed to know whether anyone outside the academic world was interested in such matters. What did people care, unless they made it their vocation or required the information for an exam?
When James found his display he noted how much bigger it was than the booths around it.
His excitement grew as he hurried through the curtain to first section. But excitement turned to confusion as he found himself in what appeared to be an airport terminal.
The signs were in a foreign language and he was confronted by images of officials who seemed to be asking him questions, but he could not understand a word. After a few seconds, although it seemed much longer, a voice welcomed him in English and explained that he was now far from home on a journey that would show how international trade agreements, corrupt government, exploitation and other issues drove people into poverty and kept them there.
James was overwhelmed by the realism. Within seconds he had forgotten this was a display in an exhibition hall. The feeling intensified as he moved through a doorway to the next room where all his senses were assaulted by the sights, sounds and smells of a busy street. This was like no city he had ever experienced. He almost gagged at the smell and instinctively tried to jump from the path of the cars and trucks careering out of the screen in front of him.
The third room was quieter but emotionally draining as James was drawn into the world of a poor family living on the street, with no privacy, little security and few prospects for a better future. It was nothing like his own experience and he wondered why he had never considered how people survive in such circumstances.
It was during this part of the exhibit that James realised he was alone. He had not met anyone moving ahead of him and no-one seemed to be following. Surely he was not the only person interested in this topic.
Puzzled by the thought, James moved into the final area where, a high energy, multi-sensory display presented a view of the world that challenged his beliefs, values, priorities and career plans.
Mentally and emotionally exhausted, he was relieved to find a quiet spot where he could rest before leaving the pavilion. His mind was abuzz with questions. Who had put together such a powerful presentation? Why had he not seen anyone else? What should he do now?
Half an hour passed before James felt ready to leave. By that time he saw a new life opening before him. A life dedicated to people who needed hope for their time in this world and beyond. He knew his beliefs and his studies gave him a foundation for such a career.
As he left the display area and walked past the entrance he noticed something he had missed earlier. “Enter with Caution” said the sign. “What you are about to see may change you life.”
James agreed and knew he would accept the mission God had for him.
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