Two nights ago we had dinner with some new friends and while we were talking it came out that there was a housing project not too far away that housed refugees. Our friends drove us by the complex as they were taking us home. We drove into the parking lot but it looked completely deserted.
This complex stood out in my mind all night long and into the next morning. As I prayed and sought the Lord He asked me if I was ready to take risks for Him. As much as I could discern I told Him I was ready to be made ready. So all day long I waited and watched for the adventure the Lord may be taking me on. But it was a pretty low key day. We ran some errands, picked up forms, got a fan (it gets hot in Berlin believe it or not), and ate dinner as a family.
One of the great things about this part of the world at this time of the year is that it is light outside late into the evening. Being that it was only 6:45pm and still light I decided I would ride my bike to this apartment complex, pray over it, and see what the Lord may want to show me about this complex. The complex is only about a 15 minute bike ride from where we are staying. Technically it is not in the city of Berlin but in the former GDR in the state of Brandenburg (which surrounds Berlin).
I crossed over the canal and left the city and got lost. I mean lost. I kept thinking I would pass by the complex and see it. It was fairly large and certainly in the style of the nondescript East German architecture so I should have been able to find it. But one hour passed by and nothing.
I rode forever and saw nothing but I had the abiding sense that the Lord brought me here for a purpose. So I told the Lord that I cannot return home until I see what you brought me to see. And I kept riding.
As I rode I asked the Lord what I was supposed to be looking for. He told me I was seeing with my physical eyes and that I was not looking through spiritual lenses. He then asked me, "David, what do you see?" I answered, "Nothing. I see nothing. There are houses and streets, but that is it. There are no people. This place could be deserted for all I know. There are no cars. Nothing. Nothing at all."
Nearly two hours had gone by of solid riding and I could see nothing. I just could not understand what was going on. As I rode I prayed and just sensed an overwhelming sense of isolation. As I felt this a phrase pops into my mind, 'spirit of isolation.' I did not know really what that was but I began to ride and aggressively pray against a 'spirit of isolation.'
Suddenly out of no where it seemed I was about 1 block from the complex! I saw two immigrant men sitting on a bench and I began to deliberate whether I should stop for conversation with them or ride into the complex. I decided I would ride past, turn around and then perhaps make conversation. But in riding past them I also passed another man (perhaps early 50's or late 40's in age). I said hello to him in German and he responded to me in English. I threw on my brakes and said, "do you speak English?" He said, "yes of course! Do you live here?" I said, "yes my family and I just moved to Berlin about two weeks ago." He said, "Thank you for coming."
He told me he was from Pakistan and had been in Germany for 1 year and 9 months. I asked him if he was Muslim and he said yes. I told him I follow Jesus and he responded with "you are welcome here, would you like to come to my house?"
I followed him to his apartment in this complex but as we walked up the stairs a very large German man stepped out and tells me very harshly that visiting hours are over and I must leave. My new friend pleaded my case and asked for 15 minutes, I was granted 10 minutes. We continued to his apartment and the smells of middle eastern and Asian foods were simply over powering.
As we walked along I sent a quick text to Keri because I was acutely aware of the foolishness of coming here alone - or at least with no one knowing my location. We stepped into his apartment and he locked the door and my heart sank just a bit. The enemy used this situation to explain all the reasons I should fear. But soon the Lord showed me that this was what He was wanting me to see.
I sat down at his table and we began to speak. He told me about being beaten severely in the head with an automatic weapon by the Taliban. He told me about his health issues related to the beating. He is having trouble with his vision and he has constant headaches. It was then that my time was up and I had to leave.
But I had seen a man who had his physical needs pretty well cared for. He had an apartment, food, clothing, and medical care. Yet he was isolated and alone. His family had either been killed or fled to other countries with no way to communicate. Could it be that a friendship is what the Lord wanted me to give this man? I do not yet have clarity on why the Lord wanted me to see and meet this man yet I am certain there is a reason.
As I left the complex I got lost on my bike AGAIN and turned a 15 minute return trip into another solid hour of riding. Today I am exhausted and grateful. His mercies are new every morning.