March 9, 1993
“The last thing I ever expected to happen to my life was to become a refugee,” said the young man we met in Salzburg.
He went on to tell us about his university education and teaching degree and his hopes and dreams for a rich full life but he had to flee his home land. He was now without papers or nationality and his goals seem unreachable.
As many do, he had applied for refugee status in the United States. In the meantime, the Austrian government provided food and a place to live. He had no idea how long that would last. Furthermore, he had no money and could not work. His friends gave him a ride to church each week, a sacrifice on their part because gasoline is over $4.00 a gallon and this fellow lives 60 km out of town.
He also told us how he became a Christian. He met a Christian girl and for a while “confused the love of Christ” with romantic love. Then he recognized that Jesus was the One who loved him so very much and asked Him to forgive his sins. He didn’t tell us why he had to flee his home land but we know that people who become Christians in his country (in the Middle East) are severely persecuted, even killed.
Despite all this, he is not without resources; he is a child of God. He can depend on divine help. As he explained to us how he deeply desires to somehow minister to others, his shining face clouded with the mention of so many obstacles. We tried to encourage him to trust God even though it sometimes seems He does not hear our prayers. We can not always see what God is doing but can be sure He cares and will respond.
The experience of Daniel, an Old Testament prophet, sheds light on one reason prayer sometimes seems futile. Daniel had been praying for three weeks. Finally, an angel appeared to him and said; “Daniel, you who are highly esteemed... since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard and I have come in response to them. “
Then the angel tells of a battle in which he had been resisted during those three weeks when Daniel was praying. Finally another angel came to his aid. Only then was he able to fully respond to Daniel’s prayer.
This is what the Bible calls spiritual warfare. Christians, as well as angels, are included in the struggle and “our battle is not against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers and spiritual wickedness in high places.”
The Bible also says the weapons of our warfare are not what we might use to fight in a human sense but spiritual — prayer being a primary weapon against all evil forces.
As our friend prays and wonders if God is hearing, we sensed that God has indeed has heard and the answer is on its way even though nothing has happened for several months. God does not ignore His children’s pleas. While He prepares the answer, we need to continue praying. Not only are we engaging in spiritual warfare for one another but we are also developing our “spiritual muscles” as we participate in this wonderful Christian privilege.
We told this young man that we would ask people to pray for him, knowing that God also wants fullness of life for him. While we may never see what will happen in this specific instance, we can be sure that someday a certain young man from the Middle East will be praising God for His flawless response to his prayers.