Today I bought a one-way ticket.
And it wasn't for me.
On rare occasion, people like us find themselves helping a believer leave his or her home country, for their protection, or some other purpose. It is not done casually or often, since our heart is to see believing friends stay as salt and light inside their community whenever possible.
Today I find myself doing the opposite - sending a believer back to his homeland. His homeland is a place ravaged by war, and teeming with elements opposed to the gospel. Two months ago he fled after a narrow scrape with death. He is now known widely as a follower of Jesus.
We talked and prayed much over the past several weeks. I see his heart move from a place of fear, to an assurance of faith. "What do you think I should do now? Should I stay out, or should I go back?" he asks. "It's not important what I think," I say, "but what does the Lord want?" We pray much. Inwardly, my heart wants to see him return. There are so few there who have the light, and his family needs him. He eventually comes to the same conclusion. He doesn't have any money left, so I buy him a ticket. A one-way ticket. We stand at the departure gate, and pray briefly. When we met over three years ago, neither of us could have anticipated this moment.
"We will pray for you often. We will hold the ropes. We will meet on Skype. May Jesus use you for His kingdom." I hand him a paper on which I have written four promises in his language that are on my heart for him today. One is from Matthew 10:28-31:
"And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows."
He slips it in his vest pocket, where it won't be easily found by airport security. We embrace, and then he is gone.
I wonder if I'll ever see him again in this life. I trust God that I encouraged him in the right directions. I say a prayer for his well-being, and for fruitfulness. I feel a sense of sadness, but mostly of triumph and hope. The terror of the enemy can't win as long as the superior love of Jesus keeps calling people to this kind of obedience flowing from faith. He calls me from the airplane - the second flight of his life. "I'm sitting down now. Thanks for everything," he says. "We can't go back right now, but here you are going. Thank you," I tell him. "Go with the Lord."