For those of us who profess to be Christians, there is an undeniable truth regarding a part of the birth of our Lord Jesus. It is the fact that Jesus began his earthly life as a refugee along with Mary and Joseph after the angel warned Joseph to flee with Mary and Jesus because Herod’s soldiers were coming to kill the baby Jesus. Jesus spent his first years on earth as a refugee. In honor of that, today’s story is about Joseph the earthly stepfather of Jesus meeting some refugees in the airport on their way to their new city.
Refugee Brothers Meet Joseph at the Airport by Matthew Kohrell
In the chaotic hustle of life God can reach us through divine appointments anywhere such as what happened for some refugees sitting in the Chicago airport. For most people airports represent vacation, trips home, or business trips. As the people rush from gate to gate, airports are not places one would expect to find a meaningful connection with another human being because the passengers are only looking for their connecting flights, trying to grab a quick bite of food, or busy on their smartphones or tablets frantically communicating online. Nevertheless, airports tend to be symbols of excitement for some, and homecomings for others, and just part of the routine for others. Sitting in an airport waiting for a flight to a place, language, and culture one has no familiarity with is an entirely different matter. Such was the case for Hamid and his brother Khudidah and their families waiting for their last flight to a completely unknown city. It was the last leg of their journey after fleeing from the killers that had chased them from their homes. The choice was simple. They could escape and flee to the mountain hoping they would be able to one day relocate or they could stay and face almost certain death. Now four years later, they were on their way to a city in America.
Fortunately Hamid and Khudidah could speak English which helped them as they traveled and they hoped would help them when they reached their final destination.. All they knew was it seemed their new city was in the middle of nowhere but at least it was far far away from the troubles they had fled. While their wives and children slept in the uncomfortable seats at their gate, Hamid and Khudidah talked about what they hoped for their families. They couldn’t sleep more from the stress they felt. Their wives and children could sleep but mostly from the exhaustion of the long journey.
As Hamid and Khudidah were talking, a man came and sat down in the seat across from them. Those hard plastic seats in the Chicago airport were not in a spacious area, so across from them was almost like sitting right in front of them. The man had a newspaper he pretended to read while waiting for a chance to chat with the two brothers.
After he sat down, Hamid continued sharing his concerns with his brother, “My big worry is for the kids and our wives. I have no idea of how things will be there. What are the schools like? Our wives don’t speak English. Will they be okay?”
Khudidah tried to reassure his brother, “Remember what Nasser told us? His kids love the school and the teachers where they go. There are free English classes our wives can go to. Nasser will be waiting for us at the airport there. He said that our housing is taken care of and our apartments will be in the same building his. I really think everything will be okay. And remember the most important thing…”
Hamid interrupted, “Yes, I know. Those evil people are not there.”
Suddenly, the man put his newspaper down, “Pardon my interruption, but if you don’t mind, I would like to chat with you a bit.”
The brothers were surprised that such a well dressed man would want to speak with them. Khudidah being the oldest spoke up, “What do you want to talk about?”
The man replied, “I realize this is a difficult time for you and I just want you to know that I understand what you are going through right now.”
Hamid jumped in, “How could you possibly understand what we have been through and what we have lost?”
The man didn’t hesitate, “I am glad you asked. You see a long time ago I had to flee my homeland with my wife and a new baby boy because men were coming to kill the boy. We had to go the Egypt, but we did not have the help you will receive when you arrive in Lincoln.”
Khudidah responded, “What do you mean the help we will receive? How do you know what the help is?”
The man shared with them, “I know because God has showed it to me. When you arrive at the airport there, your brother Nasser will be there, and so will some American friends of his. You will have apartments for your two families. The school will be ready for your children with wonderful English Language programs. Nasser has been busy to make sure you will have what you need in the apartments. I wish my family and I had had that kind of help when we fled.”
Hamid was curious, “What kind of help did you have?”
The man explained, “Not much really, I was awakened by an angel warning me to take my wife Mary and our infant son Jesus and run to get out of Bethlehem because the king had ordered all male children 2 years of age and under to be killed. We left right away on camels with only the clothes we had with us to go to Egypt not knowing anything except that God wanted us to go.”
Khudidah was curious too, “So who are you?”
The man finally introduced himself, “Oh yes, pardon me. My name is Joseph and I was the earthly stepfather of Jesus.”
Hamid had to know more, “So you are saying your the stepfather of Jesus? Wasn’t he supposed to have been born about like 2,000 years ago? How is it that you are here?”
Joseph look Hamid right in the eye, “God sent me here to talk with you Hamid. God loves you and your family. I am here only for this conversation and then I will return to heaven, but not until I have shared some things with you.”
Khudidah couldn’t believe it, “Did you just get out of the hospital or is this just a joke to have fun with us?”
Joseph reassured them, “This is no joke and I assure you I am quite well. If God had not sent me, how would I know your father and mother were killed by those evil men. How would I know your daughter hopes to see snow so she can make a snowman. There many things God has showed me.”
The two brothers sat for a moment in a stunned silence not knowing what to say or how to respond. The man seemed so kind to them but this all was so strange to them.
“Please let me continue my friends,” Joseph broke the silence, “I know your life has been a nightmare the past four years, and it wasn’t so easy before that either. I know you are from a minority religion and group where you come from. I also know that your people have a history of cooperating with those who call themselves Christians in your home country and that your people and Christians helped each other while being oppressed.”
Hamid spoke up, “So you are trying to make us Christians?’
Joseph replied, “I know you are not ready for that right now even though I wish you could experience the great love Jesus has for you. I shared what I did to let you know that God knows about you and your lives and your people. Also that because Jesus spent the first years of his earthly life as a refugee in Egypt, he understands what you have been through and are feeling.”
Khudidah pressed Joseph, “So that’s all you wanted?”
Joseph wanted to put their minds at ease, “No, I also want you to know that where you are going will be a good place for your families. You and your families will be safe there. I understand you have been through a lot and many changes already, but there will be more changes in the coming months. You will be okay. People will help you. I hope one day you will come to know my stepson Jesus.”
Hamid had to ask, “Why do you keep calling him your stepson?”
“Because God is his father. Mary was a virgin when she conceived Jesus by the Holy Spirit. It was a miracle birth.” Joseph explained.
Khudidah asked, “So you took Mary and Jesus as your own?”
Joseph let him know, “Yes, I married Mary because I loved her and she had said yes to God’s plan. I accepted Jesus as my stepson to be the protector for both of them. There is much more to the story, but I see it is time for you to board your flight. You will meet others who can explain more for you my friends. Safe travels”
Joseph left and the two brothers looked at each other for a moment not knowing quite what to make of what just happened, but they quickly snapped to it to wake up their wives and children and board the plane. Once on the plane, Hamid looked at Khudidah and said, “I think everything will be okay after all, but maybe we have some things to think about now.”
So my dear reader, how will Hamid’s and Khudidah’s story be in their new country? Please share your ideas.
More importantly, in reality how what the real life stories of refugees be like in their new land? The answer to that question could very well be up to those of us in the places they come to.
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