Although this is a true story about my family, some of the names have been changed for the privacy of others.
Our guests were coming from halfway around the world. They were the most honored guests that we have ever welcomed into our home. When Anyango told us that her parents loved spaghetti and garlic bread, my wife’s anxiety over the meal settled. The Italian in her took over to put the Olive Garden to shame. Our little apartment was so clean and neat that we were ready even if the President decided to stop by. We had made every preparation for their visit, but this story is not about our hospitality. This is a story of how our guests filled our home with such grace and blessing that you would have thought that we were the most honored guests. This would be the first time we would meet Mr. and Mrs. Negasi, and the first time they would meet their grandson.
I’ll never forget the night he was born. My wife came home from the hospital and asked me if we could take in a baby. Anyango had been my wife’s patient that evening and she had given birth to a beautiful baby boy, but she could not keep him. I told my wife to slow down, take a deep breath and we would help this lady visit her son while the agencies who handle this sort of thing found a family.
“What is his name?” I asked Anyango when we picked her up a week later to go to the foster home.
“Salim Ade, it means the Peace of God,” she replied quietly.
“What a wonderful name,” I thought.
Each week for the next two months we would pick up Anyango and drive two hours to visit Salim for as long as the foster family could stay. Throughout this time Anyango’s heart was breaking, but her stoic Ethiopian countenance kept it hidden. The Lord had been speaking to me during this time and I had resolved in my heart to be a father for this fatherless boy. My wife, of course, had been ready to take him home from day one, but neither of us knew what Anyango wanted. The day of the final visit came and went. All of the paperwork had been signed and in one week she would lose her son forever.
On the way home I glanced at Anyango through the rearview mirror. For the first time since we had met I saw her eyes moist with what I prayed were tears. I wanted so badly for her to just tell us what she wanted to do.
“Why are you crying?” I asked rather sharply.
Startled by my voice and the question, she began to sob, “Because a mother should not have to sign her baby away when she wants to keep him.”
“That’s what I want to hear,” I said, and within the week Salim was at home in his room in our little apartment.
It was now over a year later and Salim’s grandparents would be arriving from Ethiopia any minute. We were all a little nervous, Anyango more than the rest, but since each of us were Christians we knew God’s grace would avail as it had over every situation that year. From the moment they arrived it was like seeing old friends. Jesus had made us family in heaven and Salim had made us family on earth. The Peace of God what a wonderful name.
They brought with them a traditional gift from their country: a lovely tablecloth with hand-embroidered teardrop designs of deep maroon and bright yellow on a sandy background. Dinner was filled with laughter and thanksgiving as we shared with them Salim’s life so far. The afternoon overflowed with warmth and good fellowship. As they were leaving, Mrs. Negasi stopped and took my wife’s and my hand into hers. She looked into our eyes and spoke a blessing in Amharic while Anyango translated. Her prayer for our home was the blessing of children just as delightful as their Salim. The prayer of this tender godly woman went up to the throne room of heaven, and the answer has come down in Hannah and Micah, our lovely children.
When I think about the blessing we received when we had intended to show hospitality to our guests I am reminded of the scripture in Hebrews 7:7, “Now beyond all contradiction the lesser is blessed by the better.” NKJV
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