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48 Hours in Atlanta

After my wife and I read David Platt’s book Radical, we signed up for the Atlanta mission trip, convinced that we were just going through the motions and needed to be more involved in being the hands and feet of Jesus. On a Friday morning, we embarked on our first, but hopefully not our last, mission trip together.

The drive over to meet at the church was stressful and unnerving. Because Michelle was unable to attend any of the trip meetings beforehand, she was full of questions. What do you mean we have to knock on strangers' doors? I have to sleep on a cot? Will we be safe? I did my best to answer the questions and reassure her. I prayed a lot for God to work things for His good.

By the time we reached Atlanta, I was at ease, and Michelle was beginning to relax and feel more comfortable as she began to build relationships with the rest of the team. We were apprehensive about going door-to-door still, but I felt very good about the team God had assembled.

Our group’s first stop in the community was with a Nepali family. The woman who answered the door looked at us amused, but invited us in anyway. She spoke little English but was very hospitable – she promptly went to the kitchen and brought us back a drink and homemade bread. After a short while her husband came in, and he spoke English well. We were instructed only to say were friends of refugees here to help with their English and take any concerns back to our leaders. We stayed for over an hour but no opportunity presented itself to talk of Jesus. We did learn that his family was Buddhist but he had no belief. We took the information back to Global Frontier Mission, who said they would follow up.

The second family we visited was an Iraqi family who had been in the US for two months. We knocked on the door and were greeted by a very strong and dynamic man named Mazin who welcomed us into his home. Like the family from Nepal, Mazin’s family was hospitable in a way that many Americans are not. It struck me with guilt how we who are believers in Christ are less hospitable than those who do not believe in Christ.

Our visit went especially well, and after hearing Mazin talk of his struggles in Iraq and the persecution he and his family had been through, my problems and my sufferings shrank a great deal. All of sudden, we saw our world as more of a blessing than a struggle. I knew when we left their apartment that the Holy Spirit was making changes in our hearts and in our minds.

Mazin invited us back the following day to eat lunch with his family. Michelle, Rachel and I returned the following day to a feast. It was the kindest display of hospitality I had ever seen. Mazin said he and his wife Sassan could not sleep the night before in excited anticipation of his new friends coming to eat lunch with him and his family. The table was so full of food that we had to eat out of the serving dishes. We talked and we laughed and had the best time; I felt as if I had known them my whole life. After the meal, we watched a slideshow of Mazin and his family. He told us in detail the story of his persecution in Iraq, of his families’ previous homelessness and the death of his brother. He looked at his wife and began to cry openly, recounting the struggles he and his family had escaped.

I left there knowing that I was the one God had blessed that day. I know that mission work is in our future. As a result of this trip, Michelle and I are more dedicated to making our home inviting to visitors as well as making Jesus the center of our lives and marriage. I now look differently at the loss of my son and all of my struggles. And I marveled that every time I have gone in the name of Jesus, I am the one that is blessed.

Jeff Goebel

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