Monday, January 12, 2015

the best part

Monday, I wrote about our mission trip to New York, but I didn't tell you about one of my favorite parts. We met a young man named Salomon. I'll give you one guess about where he was from.

You guessed it: DRC. He is an intern at Urban Nations, where we taught the ESL classes I mentioned. I could tell he had an accent, and on one of many subway trips with him I had my husband ask him where he was from. 

"DRC," he says, like every American knows where that is. Of course we do, but (honestly) we wouldn't have a clue if we weren't adopting from there. 

When he said it, my jaw dropped a little, and I think I may have even teared up--just in the corner of my eye, you know. What a "coincidence." Out of 2.3 million people in Queens alone, we were spending much of our time with a man who was born 6,000 miles away in Kinshasa, where our Sweet C was born and still lives. I do not think that was a "chance meeting" or a coincidence; I have read of and experienced too many instances where God placed specific people in others' lives at the perfect time to speak through, minister to, or encourage them, and I believe that's what our meeting was about. 

Not only was Salomon an easy-going guy who was using his talents to glorify God, but he has an amazing story that was an amazing encouragement to all of us.

Salomon's mother was a missionary in DRC and, as a result, he was born there and has lived in 20 different countries, learning to speak at least four languages fluently and bits and pieces of several other languages. Because he lived in Kinshasa as a young child, he only remembers parts of Lingala; however, I would imagine he knows more than even he thinks he knows.

Salomon's mom died when he was attending a prep school near Chicago, and when he heard the news of her death he placed himself face-down in the middle of a busy highway. His friend found him there and, after trying to find out what was wrong and convince him to get up and out of the highway, his notably small and weak friend lifted Salomon's 6-foot-6, 260-pound athletic body from the pavement and carried him to safety.

He planned to play professional basketball, and when that didn't happen he attended an NAIA school and battled depression his freshman year of college, becoming embittered at God for the loss of his mother and part of his dreams.

He didn't share exact moments that brought him back into the God-fearing life he had lived in his earlier days, but he said God surrounded him with people who continued to speak truth into his life. He later began law school, working as a paralegal in Chicago, but stopped attending law classes due to the astronomical expense of it all. He hopped on a plane to New York without a plan or a place to stay. He met someone on the plane who told him about a family member who could offer him a place to stay, and that was that. (I can't imagine doing that!)

Feeling that he wanted to work in the nonprofit sector, he researched around and found some job opportunities in areas in which he wasn't passionate, even some with agendas he was staunchly against. One night he went to a party, where he ran into a woman who worked at a nonprofit. He asked a few questions until she finally said, "I'm not sure that you would want to work there. It's a Christian organization."

"I'm a Christian," he said. And that was that. (I should note here that it is relatively rare to find a self-described Christian in New York...much more rare than it is to find one here in MO.)

He is now using his awesome God-given talents and abilities and his natural outgoing and warm personality to teach ESL students and to help raise awareness and funds for the programs his nonprofit offers.

He now lives as an amazing testament to God's sovereignty and commitment to his believers, despite their wandering and occasional bouts of unbelief in the face of challenges.

God has given Salomon amazing gifts and an incredible life story to glorify God's name, and he is doing amazing work with the people with whom he is working in Queens. I

I hope you are as encouraged by his story as I am. God orchestrates details in our lives. God orchestrated the details in Salomon's life to give him a voice to encourage others, and I believe He orchestrated the details of our trip so that we could be encouraged by Salomon's presence, connection to DRC, and his story.

(**And one of his sisters still lives in DRC with Doctors Without Borders.)