You're on my Team!
In our group reflection after dinner Thursday, the question was asked, "How have you encouraged someone or been encouraged today?" While a clear response did not come to me at first, my day wasn't quite finished yet. About 10pm and not ready to fall asleep, I heard the sounds of young people laughing and shouting above the city noises which drew me down to the seminary courtyard near the entrance to the dormitory. To my surprise, about 30 young Egyptians were gathered around the makeshift volleyball court. This was a group of both current seminary students and recent graduates who were on campus for their annual celebration the prior evening. I decided to investigate...
Clearly, they were surprised to see me approach and probably wondered if this American was going to tell them to "quiet down" so he could get some rest. As I sat on the sidelines to watch, I was immediately approached by a young man who spoke very good English and introduced himself. His name is Wasat. He had recently graduated from the seminary and was now leading a new church in a village several hundred miles from Cairo. As he told me about his ministry and the people he was reaching through the Good News of Jesus, I could really sense the love he felt toward the people he was serving and the joy of his call. He also shared his fears and challenges from others in his community that resent Christianity because it threatens their way of life. Then Wasat jumped up and said, "let's go, you're on my team!"... I really didn't know if he was serious or not, but for some reason with no hesitation I hurled myself onto the court.
As the games went on it was clear that this was more about fellowship and far less about winning or losing. In fact playing the game together really removed our differences in age and culture, and I felt like one of the gang, just laughing and cheering good plays and good effort. I was reminded that "encouragement" comes in many forms and just as I had encouraged Wasat and his ministry, he had encouraged me to get out of my comfort zone and take a risk.
I'm not sure how long the games lasted as it was well past midnight when I gave my farewells, snapped a selfie with the guys and headed to the dormitory needing to finally recover from my jet lag. As I went to sleep I was filled with the joy these young people shared and encouraged to witness how the Holy Spirit would be revealed to each of us during our visit to Egypt.
Clairmont Presbyterian Church