About six years ago, Logan went to a communist country in Asia for six weeks with my father and brother. While there, one of the leaders of the underground church was abducted from his home by the secret police. Despite numerous inquiries, the government refused to even acknowledge that they had taken him. Tensions were high.
While staying in a village many miles away, Logan got to know a Christian, a man not much older than Logan, who lived and worked there with his wife and two small children. This man often let other young men live at his house in order to disciple them in the privacy of his own home. I’ll call this man Daniel.
One afternoon while he was at work, Daniel received a tip that the secret police were on their way to arrest him. Logan was with him at the time, and Daniel excused himself to go home to be with his wife and children. The rest of the day passed, and when nothing happened, he extended an invitation for Logan, Dad, and my brother to come over for dinner. After the meal, Daniel took out his guitar and sang a traditional ballad for them. He explained that the ballad is sung from the perspective of a young soldier on his way to war, telling his one true love that he may never return. Daniel said that this was the song he had sung for his wife that afternoon.
Logan still can’t tell this story without weeping. Daniel’s courage and peaceful willingness to accept whatever future lay ahead for the sake of Jesus has come to mean so much to our family. So many years later, we still speak of Daniel and pray for his family.
This morning, we walked into church just as Daniel walked out on the stage with his guitar. He began to play a haunting, spine-tingling melody as we all took communion. I couldn’t help but cry at the gift I’d been given to witness Daniel’s music in person, knowing not only the story that had changed Logan’s life, but also the life that Daniel lives on a day-to-day basis.
After the service, Logan introduced me to Daniel and his beautiful wife. They couldn’t speak much English and we didn’t know their language, but we smiled and nodded and I tried to let them know what an honor it was to meet them. Valentine smiled and waved at Daniel’s wife and the sweet woman reached for her. Logan snapped a picture of Valentine in her arms.
When I see this picture, I want to hang it up. I want Valentine to see it every day and I want to tell her that once, when she was a baby, she met a couple “of whom the world was not worthy”.
You see, Daniel doesn’t love his wife any less than Logan loves me. His love for her is deep and passionate and emotional. She doesn’t love her children any less than I love Valentine. Her heart aches when they get sick, when they get a bloody nose, when they’re sad. But everyday they live with the knowledge that they could lose the ones they love. In a moment, they could be gone. All because they choose to obey jesus.
During today’s sermon, we read, “Whoever tries to keep their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life will preserve it.” (Luke 17.33) This couple is not looking back. They are trusting God, choosing to obey him, whatever the consequences.
When Logan and I had to say goodbye, we pressed our palms together, lifted our hands to our noses, and bowed. This is the common greeting and farewell in their country, but it also seemed a fitting way for us to honor their service to God.
I can only imagine what God will do to honor them when they reach heaven. But the truth is, they’ll lay it all back at Jesus’ feet and say it was worth it.