Ahmad’s Infallible Plan
That chesire grin bursting from Ahmad’s Pakistani face pretzled my brain. Espresso pulsated through his veins. His eyes swiveled conspiratorially around the crowded restaurant. Bending across the table, he whispered “I’ve got one just like yours.”
My puzzled expression seemed to confuse my refugee friend. He slid his hand slyly up from under the table and waggled his fingers in front of my transition lenses. When the blur of motion only increased the creases on my brow his grin faded and he set about to tutor me.
“The ring on your finger.” He waggled again. “See.”
“You got married?”
“When? How? To whom?”
Ahmad did another shoulder check then hunched in close with his confidential whisper. “She’s a refugee. From Afghanistan. She’s trapped in her religion. She wants to be free. We talked. We did the ceremony.”
Ahmad had adopted me as a father figure from the time he arrived in the country two years ago. I had sheltered him, counseled him and led him to Jesus. Not once do I remember talking about marriage. He seemed to sense my need for explanation at something which seemed so logical to him.
“She can’t be free.” Shoulder check. Hunch. Whisper. “I knew if I brought her to church that everyone would love her to Jesus. Just like it happened to me. She can only come to church if I marry her. This is the only way for her to be free.”
The white Nike swoosh embedded on the pocket of his black golf shirt started to dance in front of my eyes. I tracked the joy that bubbled from deep within his soul. Ahmad’s infallible plan to free someone from bondage depended entirely on his confidence that the body of Christ would love her into truth.
That impression grew deeper the more he talked. “She only speaks Farsi. No English. I told her my father here is a big mullah. We need a wedding meal.”
My unofficially adopted Pakistani son was convinced that someone could be loved to Jesus without any words. Just through smiles, hugs, acceptance, love.
“By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." The words of Jesus rang in my head but this seemed a rather radical interpretation, a high expectation, a surreal belief about the broken, desperate, wounded and struggling flock I tried to pastor week after week.
Faces began to fade in and out of my mind. Jessie, a desperate single mom came for her quota of hugs each week but always had a hug for Ahmad. Therman, a widower from cancer, coming through the loneliest year of his life, hung on every word of the message as if it was life itself but always had a minute to listen to Ahmad. Jose, struggling to find work and learn English, but always ready with a prayer for Ahmad. Rik and Annie, cradle still empty after a dozen years of marriage, but so tenderhearted with a place always set at their table for Ahmad.
The Leba kids had adopted Ahmad as a big brother. Essie Ballard and Jean Cummins scolded him when he missed like he was their own offspring. Titus always made sure Ahmad had a bulletin. Joshua always had a smile and a strong handshake for Ahmad.
I’ve been to countless conferences and seminars telling me everything that was wrong with my church but Ahmad could make a believer out of me. Maybe Jesus knew what he was doing when he passed the baton to stumbling, fumbling, desperate men and women who knew nothing better than to love each other.
Ahmad continued to glow with that regal innocence of the new in faith. He just knew what Jesus had freed him from and he wanted that so desperately for someone else that he would lay down his whole life and future to see that happen.
I’m not sure how Ahmad’s infallible plan will turn out but I know that I am forever going to be looking at my church through different lenses.
The world is so much different now then when I was young. So is my church. I’m glad some things never change. Love is still God’s infallible plan.
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