Our bus ride -- which should have been a 6 hour trip -- turned into a 13 and a half hour odyssey. By the time we got to the border, it was closed. Once again, we tramped from hostel to hostel trying to find a place to rest our weary bodies. Once again, we went to bed very late and trusted God to work out any details. We had been out of communication with our U.S. contact for about 36 hours. Somehow, God would get us home.
On Easter morning, we repacked our gear and headed for the border crossing. I am quite certain that I have been in church every Easter since I was born. I am certain, that in 25 plus years of ministry, I have preached from a pulpit in the U.S.A. on Easter Sunday. For Easter 2005, I was over 10,000 miles from the beautiful sanctuary where I normally proclaim God's Word. I was sitting beside a large river that is the boundary of two countries. On one side of that river was religious freedom; on the other side, Christianity is violently opposed. The Roadmakers were on the dark side of the river.
We were at the border crossing before it opened, so we stopped at a little hole-in-the-wall cafe and got something to eat. To be honest, I was feeling a little melancholy. I missed the congregation I served back in the southeast. I wondered how the greatest weekend in the history of the world would go (we were 13 hours ahead of them.) For me, Easter eclipses Christmas as the most important Christian celebration. Also, our adventure was coming to an end.
There were no churches where we were. None! But, the kingdom of heaven was there, at that moment, dwelling in the hearts of 8 Roadmakers! As the sun began to rise in the east, we decided to celebrate communion on communist soil. Bill R. bought a loaf of bread -- symbolic of the body of Christ -- and we broke it. We had no grape juice and chose not to buy wine, but we observed the symbol of Christ's shed blood with coffee and mango juice. We quoted scripture from memory, prayed, our eyes filled with tears, and our act of worship ascended into God's presence as a sweet sacrifice.
Down at the river, we got into long skinny boats and headed for the shores of a free land. Halfway across the river we could see our "M" friends standing on the banks. They were elated -- and relieved -- to see us. One of them was talking on a phone, letting our contact back home know that we were safe and accounted for.
Writing this last entry about our mission has dissolved me to tears. Why? Many years ago, when I was sixteen, God called me to follow Him. I would have never guessed that the Adventure would unfold as it has. At that time of my salvation, to be forgiven of my sins would have been enough. Now, I find it hard to believe or describe the depth and richness of the new life I received. The words of an old hymn come to mind, "Sweeter as the years go by, sweeter as the years go by. Richer, fuller, deeper, Jesus' love is sweeter -- sweeter as the years go by."