I remember your feet.
It was after 1 pm when he called. I was worried because he is not usually late. We had arranged for lunch at home. It had been a while since we met and we were both happy that, at last, we got that opportunity. Embarrassed, he told me that he would not come for lunch. He reported that he had spent an hour and a half trying to get home but the bus stop changed and he, without speaking Portuguese properly, had not been able to find the new location.
At 60 and emotionally shaken by the refuge, he has not yet managed to advance in the study of our language. To make matters worse, he had forgotten his cell phone in his house. "I failed twice," he told me over and over. After trying a lot he decided to go back to his house. His voice was one of sadness and disappointment. In your culture, this is an almost unforgivable act.
I showed understanding, stated that I had no problem, and decided to offer to go to his house, that same night, to show that everything was fine. He was happy. We set up for 20h. I arrived a little later. I took with me a small package of grapes and a bag of apples. Rules of oriental hospitality that we learn. He came to greet me at the door. I see him with colored hair, looking good. Good sign, I think. He is fine…
I walk into his small office and sit down. We started talking and I noticed his feet. New sandals. But it's his feet that catch my eye, not his sandals. They seem to want to tell me something. I remember your story. He was born into an extremely poor family from the interior of an Asian country. In childhood, there was no school nearby. He grew up helping his father in the ox cart. At that time, without cars and trucks, an ox cart was very useful. It is a tough job, very tough, but worthy.
Close to his twenties, during a trip to work with his ox cart, he had a dream/revelation. In him the Lord Jesus summons him. He decides to dedicate his life to the church and never get married. For the next ten years, he lives like a wanderer. Barefoot pilgrim. Itinerant evangelist. From village to village, village to village, announcing Jesus to a people far from grace. And the people who walked in darkness saw a light. And the light shone in the darkness, and the darkness did not prevail.
His inspiration was none other than Sadhu Sundar Singh, the apostle of the bloody feet, who once, during his journeys, slept at his father's house when he was still a boy. His father told him the story. The power of an example. The value of a visit ...
My attention is divided between his speech and my thoughts about his feet and his life story. After this itinerant phase, he started planting churches. And they grow and become stronger. And then, seeing that there were not enough schools for his people, he, who cannot go to school, starts one, then another and another… today there are more than twenty schools, welcoming thousands of poor children. At the beginning of the school year, each child gets a kit: uniform, backpack, notebooks, books, and… a pair of sandals….
How many and how many villages have these feet not stepped on? In your country, it is forbidden to share the message of Christ. There is enormous persecution. Even so, he did not give up. How many confrontations has he experienced for the Gospel? He does not talk about it, but his disciples claim that he has been arrested and assaulted dozens of times. His church in his country supports more than 400 full-time evangelists. People who are following in their footsteps.
The conversation becomes more profound when, suddenly, he says that today, after a year and a half in Brazil, he is at peace. He knows that it was the Eternal who allowed his persecution. He's serene. He no longer cries every day, as he did in the beginning. He apologizes to me for having given me so much work ... Little does he know how much he blesses me!
And so two hours fly by. As usual, he asks me to pray before I leave. I am inclined to ask to photograph your feet, but soon I abandon the idea. How would you explain such a request? I get up towards the door and he asks for another minute. He goes to the kitchen and comes back with a huge plastic bag full of fruit. Mangoes, bananas, apples ... I'm embarrassed. There is at least five times more fruit in that bag than the one I brought ... I bought it to take home, but as I got lost on the way, I brought it back ...
I pick up the fruit bag. I am surprised by the weight. I can imagine him walking in the midday sun with this heavy bag. I leave your house with much more than when I arrived.
This story is a metaphor for what I have experienced in welcoming these brothers of ours in a situation of refuge over the years. Far from being a burden, they are a blessing to be welcomed.
He makes a point of accompanying me to the car. We made an appointment before Christmas. At his house, he says. Next time I'll get it right. I return home with a grateful heart and an enormous feeling of smallness. We have so much. We thank you so little. We share even less ...
How beautiful are the feet of those who announce the good news… Beauty is certainly not.