Paul Lavelle our Director of Resources & Marketing just got back from a 10 day visit of a friend in Thailand. We’re sharing lunch and getting “caught up”.
How long was the flight? Did you fly through Hong Kong? What was it like? What did you do? You must be exhausted, what’s the time difference? Did you pick me up a pair of knock-off Guess Jeans? (Hey! With my weight loss I can upgrade from my Carhartt Relaxed Fits).
Ten minutes into stories of scuba diving, robust cuisine, meeting up with an old buddy, adjusting plans around security concerns, the breathtaking natural beauty and the hospitality of The Land of Smiles Paul pauses… shifts in his seat and with a subtle shift in the tone of his voice… then his eyes … tells of the sine qua non event of the trip. Paul comes upon a severely disabled young man dragging himself across a narrow bridge. I couldn’t tell you all the details… but at this point he’s said enough that two things are happening within me: first: I’m surprised I’m not glazing over in calloused self-protection from another–one-of-those-third-world-stories of poverty, horrific suffering and injustice… secondly I’m flush with recollections of my own encounters…
Muggy hot afternoons in some dusty maze of a “city” being heartbroken full of grief and sorrow and guilt wondering "What is his life like?", "How far does he crawl a day?", "How much money does he make?", "Is he married… does he have children?” "How long can he live this kind of life?" “Are those even relevant questions?” “Does he know Christ and have any hope of a future or is all he knows and has limited to right here, right now? He has nothing...no life, no hope, only a continuing hell.
I remember coming home feeling indelibly humbled… changed, sensing how very stinking well off I am, how much I have, how good I've got it. I'm hugging my wife and telling my daughters how much I love them... I'm on my knees thanking God for my every breath of life. And it lasts for about two weeks.
Paul, eyes fully tear filled, shares of his moving towards the man placing his hand on the man’s brow and crying out to God on his behalf. Crying out.
And then Paul’s eyes meet the man’s and in that glance Paul shares he saw God.
There’s a pause in our conversation. A settling in.
I’m crying at this moment and I cannot tell you why.
- Craig McConnell