Saturday, July 9, 2011


Rachel: "What do you want to do?"

Me: "I...don't know."

I wanted to sing and dance and laugh and play with that precious child.

Rachel: "Are you going to India? Spirit told me to ask you."

Me: "That's what I've been thinking about this entire time...but Merve's not in India."

Rachel: "How are you going to leave Turkey?"

Me: "In pieces."

I had no idea.

Straight from my journal. 30 June 2011. Thyatira:

Jesus. You are so beautiful.

When i see those who are suffering, i see You Yourself -- Living and active, bruised and carrying Your cross. You captivate and soften me.

i see You most in the least. i see You, Jesus. i see You.

You led me to desire and to ask to see Your Kingdom and Your beauty and Your love and Your glory. It is a dangerous and lovely thing to request. And then You hit me with it.

It happened in Thyatira. Her name is Merve.

She was so beautiful, Jesus. i saw You. i see You most in the least. i want to see You always. You are so beautiful. SO beautiful.

She was standing around. She was young -- maybe eight or nine -- but she stood out from everyone else.

Matted hair. Dirty hands. Shoes that were obviously too big for her. Her eyes could not have been more piercing. They were deeply inset and striking white against her ebony skin. i saw innocence behind the hardness. But the hardness was not hard for long. Your love wooed her open and seeped through the cracks.

It all began (sort of) when the air conditioner on the bus quit working. We waited outside the Thyatira ruins for it to be repaired. i saw her first outside the jackpot candy store. i had a white chocolate bar and turned around to buy three more because it was so good. i walked up to her and offered it. She didn't accept. i smiled. i wanted to be around her and i wanted her to know that. Your Love in me pursues. So i asked her her name.



She mingled around us and quickly realized that we don't speak much Turkish. We spoke as much as we knew how and smiled through it all. She seemed closed off. She told us more than we could understand. We smiled anyway.

Kristin bought her water. She accepted the chocolate on the second offer. A younger boy showed up and stayed around her. He may or may not have been her younger brother. He looked about five or six.

We sat on an umbrella table stump. Sitting was most of what happened. The boy kept pointing at my camera. i gestured an offer to take their picture. They nodded and loved it.

There was a word she kept repeating while she was with us. i didn't know it at the time, but she was saying, "Can I come with you? Can I come with you? Can I come with you?"


i strongly remember the moment when You nudged me to open my hand to her. She latched onto it and i prayed Your peace over her. She leaned her head against my shoulder. i was instantly in pieces and especially in love.

You amaze me. You wanted to hold her hand.

She walked over to be with the larger portion of my friends. i sat speechless on the umbrella's base. After a minute or so of stunned silence i joined them by the gate. When i walked up, my heart rejoiced. She was gettin' loved. Some were letting her use their camera. Others were extending their hands for her to hold. Arms were available for her to lean on. Laughter was prevalent.

The Body of Christ.

My heart swelled to watch her interact with those who gave her their loving attention. i genuinely wondered if she had ever been hugged before. She took the next two pictures.

She came back over to me and took a picture of us.

i saw love bring her out of the dark. The Life in me brought her out of the grave. Kindness awakened her to goodness. Her smile was so beautiful. i won't forget it even though the photographic evidence suggests otherwise. i saw Your Light.


My arms couldn't resist hugging her. You couldn't resist hugging her. My hands couldn't help but reach for hers. The light in my eyes couldn't be kept from shining Hope into her soul. You did these things. My hands and arms and eyes realized why they were created. i spilled open and Love fell in. Now let it be unstoppable.

You gave me a smile that poured love over her and beckoned her into Your arms. She kept grabbing onto my arm with both of her hands and leaning against me. It melted me every single time.

Josh came to tell us that the bus had arrived. i embraced her joyfully and hugged her as tightly as i could. i leaned close to her ear and whispered the only sentence i know in her language:

"Isa Mesih Sani Savior!"

"Jesus Christ loves you!"

Her lit up! i invited her to walk with us back to the bus. She grabbed my hand and i swung our arms back and forth as we walked. Again she leaned against me. Again my heart melted. Before i got on the bus, i got eye-level with her and held both of her hands in mine as i said, "Seni seviorum ve Isa Mesih Sani savior."

"I love you and Jesus Christ loves you."

We smiled and Turkish-kissed.

i got on the bus and watched her wave and smile from the street. She soon walked to the back of the bus and kept motioning for me to get off and stay with her. i had never been more thankful to not know the language of the country i was in. Even if i did, i would not have been able to tell her that i couldn't stay with her and she couldn't come with us.

After a few moments of her asking me to stay with her and me standing helplessly irresponsive, she walked up the stairs and pressed against the side of the bus, as if hiding. She looked so afraid and so almost-but-not-yet relieved. i looked at her longingly and lovingly and told her again that i love her. it took more trust than i had at that moment to believe that she would see love as more than something or Someone who comes and goes. Her name will never be "Abandoned." My hand remained in hers as the driver of our bus told her to get off.

She resisted -- much the way i resist when i'm about to jump off a cliff or a diving board. There is that start-stop movement that happens and an inner, rising tension that prevails and consumes. i saw this in her.

She kissed my hand and touched my fist to her forehead and then threw it behind her as she ran down the stairs of the bus. The door closed and as we pulled away i watched her weeping on the street by herself.

it wrecked me. Love wrecked me. And i knew that what had just happened was a before and after of sorts.

i remained standing on those steps for probably half an hour. i stood there missing her presence that once stood with me. Rachel came to stand by me and hold my hand. Nothing was spoken, but much was conveyed. We shared silence as we stared blankly out the window at the passing mountains. i thought of India. i wondered if it was worth it from her perspective to spend an hour with Americans who would love her so much only to leave her so quickly. i thought of Psalm 146. i thought of You, Who executes justice for the oppressed, Who gives food to the hungry, Who sets prisoners free, Who protects the strangers, Who supports the fatherless and the widow, Who thwarts the way of the wicked. The only option i had was to trust You to do what You promised.

Fear not at all. Where your hands cannot reach and your love cannot help, His hands can reach and His love can help. So why are you afraid? Miles of space and solid walls and locked doors are nothing to love. Nothing at all. -Amy Carmichael

i love You, Jesus. i love You.

i realized then that i wasn't called to accomplish anything. In those moments i realized that my lot was to look that child in the eyes and love her. And as i did, i saw You staring back at me.

i thought more of You.

The crucifixion happened because of Love, not hatred. It was an act of justice from heaven's view -- not injustice. It was a momentary act of wrath on the spotless Lamb to bring about an eternal act of mercy on those who once opposed You.

G R A C E .

Something is happening to me. YOU are happening to me. As You wish, let it be so.

i'm all Yours.

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