Justine Meets The Queen of Sheba in a Refugee Camp in Congo

Justine Meets The Queen of Sheba in a Refugee Camp in Congo

by Matthew Kohrell

Justine was sitting in a makeshift prayer chapel in the refugee camp outside of Kinshasa Congo wondering what would the future bring her after she came to America. Would her dream of becoming a nurse be possible living in a place where people speak English and not French? How would things work out for her? Where will she live? Will the flight be safe? So many anxious questions flooded her mind. Justine was so lost in her worries that she did not notice the woman come in the little chapel.

“Mind if I join you?” the woman asked.

Justine was startled out of her shell and looked to see who the woman was.

“Sorry if I disturbed your prayer. Is it okay if I sit with you?” the woman asked.

Justine calmed herself after seeing the woman meant no harm. She knew women have to be careful in the refugee camps. She looked in the woman’s eyes and smiled shyly, “Yes, please do.”

The woman smiled, “Great, I always enjoy talking with God’s people.”

Justine was curious, “How do you know if I am one of God’s people or not?”

“Well for starters, why else would you be sitting in a prayer chapel that looks more like a hut?” The woman replied.

Justine chuckled a little, “I see your point. Do you want to pray or something?”

“Prayer is always good, but actually I would like to share a bit with you today.” The woman responded.

“Maybe that is what I need. I am so nervous that I can barely keep calm. Maybe talking will help me not focus on changes so much.” Justine shared.

“What is making you so nervous? Is it the new life that awaits you in America?” the woman inquired.

Surprised the woman knew Justine was going to America, she asked, “How did you know I am going to America?”

“Oh, there are many things God showed me before I came here to this chapel.” the woman reassured.

“God showed you? When? How?” Justine’s curiosity was peaked now.

“He showed me a few minutes before he sent me here from heaven to speak with you.” the woman explained.

“From heaven? How is that possible? And by the way, who are you?” Justine pressed.

The woman smiled, “I guess that is a lot to take in. I was in heaven and God sent me here for a short time just to talk with you. You can call me Sheba, but we can leave my title out of it for now.”

“Nice to meet you Sheba.” Justine reached out to shake her new friend’s hand.

Sheba took her hand and held it for a moment looking Justine in the eyes, “Nice to meet you too, You should know that everything you are worrying about is going to be taken care of. Even as we speak, the caseworker you will meet is arranging your apartment and has asked a woman from Congo living in your new city in America to help greet you at the airport.”

Justine sighed a sigh of relief, “That is good to know. My big worry is if I can reach my dream of becoming a nurse. Would they want someone from Congo to become a nurse there?”

“From what I understand the city you are going to has people from all over the world and the hospitals hire people who are from all over the world.” Sheba reassured her.

“I just feel like I have nothing to offer even to God. I have no money, no college degree, no family yet.” Justine confided.

“Perhaps I should share with you about an experience I had while I was living on earth. I had a chance to meet and visit a man named Solomon who was the King of Israel. I went there with the wealth I could offer seeking wisdom from him because he was known for his wisdom. He explained many things to me about God and living for God. I learned so much from him and I decided to follow the God of Israel. I didn’t feel I had much to offer after I saw how wealthy Solomon was, but I offered what I had. When I left to return to Sheba, Solomon gave me more than I had brought for him, but the biggest thing was the teachings about God.” Sheba shared.

“So how does that apply to me?” Justine asked.

“It is in the principle that it applies to you and your situation. The principle is that when we come to God with what little we have, he can take us to be more than we were when we came to him.” Sheba clarified.

“But I have only the clothes I am wearing and a few other clothes. I have nothing.” Justine interrupted.

“Remember what the angel told Mary the mother of Jesus my friend, that nothing is impossible for God. God can take your empty hands that you offer to him and bless you. Step by step he will guide you to your dream of becoming a nurse.” Sheba encouraged her.

“The steps seem so big for me right now.” Justine exclaimed.

“The first step is to get on the plane. When you arrive to your new city, God will show you the next step and each step after step by step.” Sheba replied.

“Yes, it is close to time for me to leave on the bus to the airport. Step by step, I need to remember that.” Justine sighed.

“Yes, remember step by step with God my friend.It is time for me to return” Sheba encouraged,

“Wait, you said something about your title. What is your title?” Justine pressed.

“Oh, of course. It is no big deal in heaven, but on earth I guess it would be. I was the Queen of Sheba.” Sheba confided.

“Queen? Oh my, so I have been talking with royalty?” Justine felt slightly embarrassed.

Sheba explained, “I am not a queen anymore my friend, but I have so much more in heaven than I did on earth. However, in many ways your journey on earth is just getting started. I need to go now my friend. It has been nice chatting with you.” and with that Sheba was gone.

Justine heard people yelling outside the chapel. The bus had come, so she went out and got on the bus to take the first step toward her future.

Thank you for reading my story. I was away from writing my stories for a few weeks because it is allergy season and the allergy meds make me sleepy. 🙂

 

Pah, A Young Refugee, Meets Abraham in the Refugee Camp

Thank you for reading my story today. I would love to hear what you think via leave a comment. Today’s story introduces a bit more background for Pah who is in Billy’s Study Group.

Pah, A Young Refugee Meets Abraham in the Refugee Camp

by Matthew Kohrell

The refugee camp was all Pah knew in this life due to  his parents fleeing the genocide of his people in Burma when Pah was only 3 years old. He had no memory of Burma, so the camp in Thailand was the only home he knew. His parents tried the best they could to make life decent for him, but living in a hut with no running water or electricity made it hard. Medical care was poor which was why at the age of 18 Pah was by himself. His parents had died of sickness easily taken care of in a place with modern medical care. His eighteenth birthday had arrived and all Pah could think about was his parents were gone. It was hard to believe there could be a future for him even as he went to the community center in the camp for his appointment.

Pah entered and saw a woman sitting at the makeshift desk of a board on top of two chairs. The woman seemed nice enough introducing herself, “My name is Julia. Nice to meet you Pah. I am with Church World Services and am here to help you with the arrangements here to get you on your way to America.”

Pah sat silent for a moment. Thoughts of his parents raced through his mind as well as doubts about starting a new life in America. He shyly spoke up, “Thank you. I do not know what will happen when I arrive to where it is you are sending me. Please tell me more.”

Julia wanted to encourage Pah, “I can understand your feelings Pah. The city is a nice place and someone will be waiting at the airport for you when you arrive. They will take you to the home of your aunt and uncle. That person will also take care of everything for you to get your new life started like taking you to the doctor and getting you into a school. You will taken to the airport tomorrow to leave for your new home. I will be going now Pah, but perhaps we will meet again someday.”

With that Julia left the building and Pah did not see her again before he left. He looked around for her but couldn’t find her. The next morning, Pah was sitting in the community center waiting for his ride to the airport when a man came in and sat down next to him. The man was much older but seemed kind to Pah.

“Hello young man. So you are off to America today. Are you excited?” the man asked.

Pah was hesitant to speak, but forced out, “I am not sure sir.”

The man smiled and stuck out his hand to shake Pah’s hand, “Pah, you do not need to call me sir. My name is Abraham, but you can call me Abe if you like.”

That got Pah’s attention, “How do you know my name?” he asked.

“I know a lot of things about you Pah. You see I am here to talk with you because God loves you and wants you to know he has a reason for you to go to America.” Abe reassured him.

Pah was curious but also still startled by what Abe had just said, “Why would God care about me? I am only a refugee boy.”

Abe’s paternal instincts kicked in, “I understand son. Don’t say you are only a refugee boy. God knows you and sees you. God loves you Pah.  It must be hard for you to go by yourself. I know that your parents passed away. In fact I met them after they passed away.”

Pah was shocked, “How could you meet them after they passed away?”

“Because I was in heaven up until fifteen minutes ago. All I can tell you is they are both in a wonderful place. By the way, my name is Abraham. My son is Isaac. I am here to share something with you Pah.” Abe replied ever so calmly.

“I heard about an Abraham in the bible but……” Pah was unsure how to respond.

Abe shared, “I am that Abraham Pah. Pah I understand the feeling of being uncertain about following God when you don’t know anything about where he is leading you. There was a time long ago that God told me to leave the house of my father but God didn’t tell me where to go. He only said go to the land that I will show you. In some ways you have it easier than that. You know someone will take you to the airport and that someone will meet you at the airport where you are going and take you to your aunt and uncle’s home. I had no idea of where God was going to lead me to.”

Pah was really curious now wanting some reassurance God would work things out for him, “So did everything work out okay?”

“That depends on what you mean by okay. For anyone who follows God everything works out okay, better than okay eventually, if not in this life, then for sure in heaven. I made mistakes along the way but God never gave up on me. You can read about my life in a book in the bible, in fact the first one in the bible, Genesis. God was faithful even when I made some poor decisions. Living for Jesus on earth, there are ups and downs, but he is always faithful. It is a life-long journey. Your new life’s journey will begin when you get in the van that will take you to the airport. If you ask him, Jesus will be with you every step of the way and guide you.” Abe explained.

Pah’s spirit began to lighten as worry started to fade about his trip, “Maybe if Jesus wants me in America, my plane ride will be okay. I have never been on a plane before.”

Abe chuckled a bit, “Well it is a lot faster than how we traveled when I lived on earth, but yes, if Jesus wants someone to go somewhere, he will make sure it happens.”

A van pulled up in front of the community center and a friendly British man got out wearing a cap that had Church World Services on the front. He read the list of names for those going to the airport that day. When he saw Pah’s name on the list, he yelled out, “Pah we need to go.”

Pah walked to the van and quickly looked back and noticed Abraham wasn’t there, so he got in the van and quietly prayed to himself, “Jesus please help me get there safe.”

 

 

Refugee Brothers Meet Joseph at the Airport

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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