We were at a Prayer Night with some friends a couple weeks ago, and my friend Dela gave me A WORD. (so, so thankful for you, girl.) She said, when thinking of us leaving Abbey Lane and moving to Cambodia, God brought to her mind a story about Paul at the end of the Book of Acts.
(I’ve blogged about how much we love our neighbors here–primarily refugees from around the world–and how sad we are to leave them. And our fears about who will love and care for them when we’re not here anymore.)
So, in Acts 26, Paul is in prison (he was charged with a bunch of crap because people wanted him dead), and has presented his case to King Agrippa. The King thinks he’s innocent, but he appealed to Caesar, so he has to send him to Rome. (I think this is how it’s going down.) So, in chapter 27, they set sail for Italy, Paul and a bunch of other prisoners and the centurion & guards responsible for making sure they don’t escape.
The weather gets bad on the journey (Paul had warned them it would, but they didn’t listen), and then it gets really bad. Bad, bad, bad. And, pretty soon, people start freaking out. They throw the tackle overboard and it doesn’t help. “All hope of our being saved was at last abandoned.”
Everyone’s sure they’re going to die, but long story short, Paul gets a word from God that everyone will live and it’s all going to be okay. The soldiers had planned to kill the prisoners so they wouldn’t escape, but the centurion wants Paul to live and nixes the plan.
And they land on an island called Malta. Which was totally not on their radar. They were headed toward Rome. THIS IS NOT THE PLAN.
(You people are smart. You know where this is going.)
And, once upon a time, there was a family who set sail for Cambodia. Yay! Hooray! Except the weather got bad. And then it got really bad. Like really really scary and bad. And they had to abandon the ship. And they were sad and confused. THIS IS NOT THE PLAN. And, after much floundering and almost drowning, they found themselves on an island called Abbey Lane.
So Paul and all the others float on planks of wood and land on Malta. And “the native people showed us unusual kindness, for they kindled a fire and welcomed us all, because it had begun to rain and was cold.”
And Paul does some miracles and heals the chief’s father and ends up praying with & healing a whole bunch of other people too.
He spends three months on this island and lives a lot of kingdom life and makes a big impact on the natives and his fellow prisoners and the guards. And, the Bible doesn’t say how he felt when it was time to leave, but I feel like he must have been a little sad.
“We spent a wonderful three months on Malta. They treated us royally, took care of all our needs and outfitted us for the rest of the journey. When an Egyptian ship that had wintered there in the harbor prepared to leave for Italy, we got on board.”
On January 3, when that Asiana airplane prepares to leave for Cambodia, we’ll get on board. And there will be tears. And we’re gonna miss our Malta.
And we’re praying praying praying God will send more shipwrecked folks to love on our friends at Abbey Lane.
And we know, that when we arrive in Cambodia, just like when Paul arrived in Rome, “friends will meet us and we will offer up prayers of thanksgiving and praise.” And we will trust him to provide for our friends in Malta.
God, thank you thank you thank you for the shipwreck.
(and thank you, Dela, for letting him show you the connection between our story and Paul’s)
(On a really cool note, as I type, I have six extra girls in my apartment–3 from Nepal, 2 from Somalia, and 1 from Eritrea. They’ve made cupcakes with my girls, played Spot-It & Set, looked at photo albums, and 2 of the Nepali girls asked, “can we make you our language food?” They were chopping vegetables as I sat at the kitchen table typing and looking stuff up in my Bible, and talking in Nepali about me to each other. “[something something something] Christian [something something something] Bible…” We ate the spicy deliciousness, and now the girls are leg wrestling on the living room floor. I just paused all the action and said, “I need your attention. THIS IS THE BEST DAY EVER.” My heart is bursting.)