Allison and Teo after a Muddy Canoe Ride
27 June 2011
Acts 18:20-21 KJV
"When they desired him to tarry longer time with them, he consented not; But bade them farewell, saying, I must by all means keep this feast that cometh in Jerusalem: but I will return again unto you, if God will. And he sailed from Ephesus."
One bright Sunday morning last August, my cell phone vibrated as I worked in the Sunday School office. In my rush to hand out Sunday School classroom materials before classes started, I'd forgotten to leave the phone in my car.
I never carry the phone with me into church, but this day was strangely different.
When the call arrived, I was tallying classroom attendance and contributions. It was unusual for anyone to call during church hours, and I was equally surprised to see it was from my friend, Joan, who I knew was at her church.
"Lori? I have something important to talk to you about. We're praying right now for an exchange student who needs a host family or else she'll be sent back to the Republic of Georgia in two days. I thought of you and John right away. Sunday School just let out, and I wanted to try to reach you."
My friend, Joan, and I go way back. She knows I'm active in international education projects and that we had previously hosted an exchange student. She called the right person because I have a soft spot in my heart for exchange programs and teens.
"Joan," I replied, "I'll have to talk to John about this... I don't know...Where is she now... How do you get me into these things?"
My mind raced as I realized we needed to rescue this girl, but I didn't know how to break the news to John.
Joan's laughter danced through the receiver, "I knew I had the right person!"
"Wait," I protested, "I need to ask John--"
However, I knew as soon as he heard a female exchange student was in danger of being sent home his heart would melt.
True to form, John took the news in stride as I broke it to him in my office a few minutes after Joan's call. He lowered his head and shook it in disbelief.
He measured his words carefully as he spoke in his serious voice, "I'm not saying 'yes,' Lori. I want to pray about this."
He walked to the most peaceful room he could find at the time--the bathroom. As he studied his reflection in the mirror and absentmindedly washed his hands, he thought about the news I had delivered. At that moment, he heard a distinct voice say:
She's going home with you.
John is not accustomed to hearing voices and is one of the most logically-driven people I know, which his work with computers underscores. However, he clearly heard The Voice, which he immediately recognized as the voice of God.
He hadn't yet uttered a prayer, so he bowed his head in prayer. Before his words were formed,The Voice interrupted him.
I already told you what to do!
John got the message, immediately dried his hands, and
returned to my office. He had been gone for less than five minutes.
"Lori, we have to get the girl now. She's going home with us today!"
Confused, I looked up from my paperwork to see moisture in his eyes. This was uncharacteristic. I'm the one who cries, and he usually took days to arrive at a decision.
"John, are you sure?"
He told me his story, and I could tell he was anxious to get the girl into our home as soon as possible.
Joan's phone call came a little before 11:00 a.m. By 3:00 p.m., Teo was in our home and settling into the back room we had quickly cleared for her.
Teo spent nearly a year with us. Throughout this time, God kept His protective arm around her while we provided her a loving home. God worked on her emotional and spiritual growth, and during her stay, she became an integral part of our lives.
Today we sent her back to her parents. We had a tearful departure from Savannah this morning, but we reminded her how good she would feel once she sees her family on July 2nd, her seventeenth birthday.
We added another daughter to our family this year, and right now, we are looking around corners of the house for her.
Today is strangely different.
Lord, keep Teo and the other exchange students returning home this weekend in the palm of your hand.