This is my third visit in as many months. My host is not quite 70 years old, yet her spry dexterity, keen mind, and gentle features belie her actual age.
I find her to be remarkably easy to talk to.
She offers me tea and pastries as we sit to talk about her time overseas with her husband. I am editing their memoir – an incredible story of God’s faithfulness while living in a country that is overtly hostile towards Christians.
After forty years overseas, they have recently “come home.” They have grandchildren now, and they want to live nearby.
Their home is evidence of the kind of grandparents they are. The first two times I came here, I brought my family with me. At first, I was nervous about bringing my young children to an older person’s home because my son isn’t exactly soft on his toes. Whenever there are knick-knacks on every possible surface area, my son has an uncanny ability to help them meet the floor – in pieces.
But her home is different. She has a basket of toys taking up a permanent residence in the corner of her living room. Pillows line the floor while children’s books line the shelves.
Then there’s the backyard; it’s every child’s dream. My kids have already logged countless hours in the two-story playhouse and the swimming pool. And they keep begging me to bring them back here.
Still, it’s not just the home that is so inviting. She possesses a gentle, hospitable spirit. Soft yet strong. Caring yet confident.
I ask her what she misses most about the country they have returned from.
She closes her eyes, holding back tears. Then she motions toward the computer in the other room and tells me about an e-mail she received hours earlier. A woman she led to Christ a couple of years ago had recently been baptized while meeting with an underground fellowship.
“I wish I could have been there for that,” she whispers, almost as if speaking to herself.
The morning light sifts through the shutters as she relays more stories.
My heart takes them in while trying to picture the people she speaks of. She is the kind of person who can easily – and naturally – talk about Jesus no matter what the topic of conversation may be.
Her stories move across continents.
Now she’s telling about a woman she met a few days ago while waiting in line at the Soup Plantation. She invited this woman to church and gave out her phone number in case this stranger would like to have coffee sometime to talk about Jesus.
I am changed while listening. How well, or how often, do I bring Jesus into my conversation with others? I know He is with me everywhere I go. So why don’t I bring Him up more often?
This dear missionary has been an Epaphras to so many people around the world.
Epaphras was the person who told everyone in his hometown of Colossae about Jesus. Epaphras was also the person who sought Paul’s help when the young church struggled with their belief. It was at Epaphras’ request that Paul wrote the letter to the Colossians.
In the words of Paul:
who is a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf,
and who also told us of your love in the Spirit.”
– Colossians 1:7-8
I want to be more like Epaphras. And I want to be more like my missionary friend, with her gentle way of sharing Christ with everyone she meets.
Over a cup of tea with a missionary, these words echo in my spirit: Who am I supposed to be an Epaphras to?