I had just flown in from Indiana back to my home in Charlotte and I was lost in long-term parking. This was the first time a friend wouldn’t be picking me up; the first time I felt strong enough to drive myself home. After I used the majority of my energy walking up and down the lower alphabet of parking aisles, I stopped to catch my breath, and grab my phone to make a call. It was well after midnight so when the flashing lights came on behind me, I have to admit I jumped a little.
A man slowly pulled up next to my luggage and asked if I needed help. I knew immediately from the man’s accent he was from West Africa, but I could not place the country. After driving me through more car lots, finding my car, and loading my suitcases into my trunk, I asked him where he was originally from.
“Ghana,” he said, “West Africa. You know it?”
“Yes,” I replied, “I lived in Nigeria for awhile.”
“Oh!! Igbo or Lagos?!” He asked.
“Haha, no no, I was in Jos, Plateau State.”
“Oh yes!” He said. “But don’t they do a lot of killing there?!”
My new Ghanaian friend and I jisted for a few minutes more about language and culture. I thanked him profusely, gave him a tip for his troubles, and was on my way. It wasn’t until I was almost to my front door when it hit me. That uncomfortable, nauseous feeling of conviction. I’d done it again. I wanted to kick myself. Standing there in the parking lot in lane 3 of section W, I had been given a great opportunity to tell someone WHY I was in Nigeria and WHO I believed in. I had the chance to talk about Jesus with someone that might not know Him, who has likely been the victim of hateful speech, and I didn’t take it. It wasn’t that I thought about doing it and didn’t. It was that the thought didn’t even cross my mind until it was to late.
Last night our nation elected a 45th president. The winner wasn’t who was expected to win. And he certainly wasn’t the one I wanted to win but, I do not feel defeated today. If anything I am only more convicted.
I am more impassioned to speak out against hate.
To my friends who are Latino or African American, your life matters. To my friends and neighbors from war-torn countries, refugees and immigrants, I hope you are able to stay. To my gay friends and straight friends, you are worthy of love and friendship. To my strong female friends, you are not too much or too little. You are just enough. To my friends with disabilities, you are deserving of respect and kindness. To my dear friends who have walked the road of sexual assault, our pain and our healing matters. It was never okay.
And because these things may not be common knowledge in every home, city, school, or workplace, I am more determined to speak up about Jesus.
To those feeling we are without hope, take a breath and dry your tears. To those losing heart: “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” 2 Cor. 8-9
The death of this nation, of this world, and of our sinful hearts has already been overcome. Jesus won it all so that you might know how high, how wide and how deep is the love of God for you.
My prayer for those of us surprised by last night’s finale is that we would turn from any anger or sorrow and instead tell our friends and neighbors more of Jesus. May we not walk away from any conversation feeling conviction or regret for not sharing the gospel message.