I have been sorting pictures here in the West and I came across a picture of a friend I had not thought about in a while. I met him in the midst of tragedy about 8 years ago. We got up one Monday morning and heard that a local church had been bombed by some extremest. They had planted three bombs actually. One went off at the back of the large meeting room as the church's evening service was coming to a close. As everyone quickly headed for the stairwell a second bomb went off and when they got to the bottom of the stair well the third bomb praise God did not go off. Ten people were killed and more than fifty were severely injured. We grabbed a doctor who had just joined our team, and we headed to the hospital. I began meeting with distressed and confused church members milling around the hospital yard. They didn't know how many were injured or where they were. I asked where their leaders were and many didn't know. Then I found out that all the leaders of the Church had been arrested after the bombing. Only in Gondor! Our doctor set up a clinic to see all the victims who were released from the hospital so they could get real treatment. He cleaned open wounds and treated a lot of burns. Other team members helped them set up a command center in one of their houses. They cataloged everyone injured and where they were. I went to a European Human Rights organization that had some clout and asked them to intervene on behalf of the arrested Church leaders. They were released the next morning.
During this time we met Hurin. He was badly burned over 80% of his body. His head was burned black and swollen up like a basketball. I did not think he would live but his church members put some money together and sent him out of country for some real medical treatment. When he came back a couple of months later he was normal. I mean- really normal. He didn't look as though he had been burned at all. The color of his skin was not quite right to me but he did not look scarred. He was beaming and he told us his story.
I was going down the stairs when the second bomb went off. I fell into a huge gulf of pain. I could not speak or move. I thought they would think I was dead- later I learned that I was screaming wildly but at the time I had no control of my body or any understanding of my surroundings. I passed out. When I awoke I was in worse pain than I have ever known or imagined. It went on and on. I called out to God to help me and suddenly I was somewhere I did not recognize. I was in a room that seemed to be a party but everyone there looked completely miserable. I was a little afraid of them as they looked grey, unhappy, and a little intimidating. I saw many of my friends and family there. I didn't talk to anyone but moved to the center of the room trying to stay away from everyone. Then suddenly I moved up through the ceiling and found myself in another room. It was huge. It was full of truly beautiful people. The women wore fantastic dresses and the men all wore brilliant suits and ties (at this point I, Strider was very discouraged to hear that there will be ties in heaven). I loved everyone and everything and I was very happy. They all seemed to be expectantly waiting for something to happen. Then I moved up through the ceiling again. I was in a really beautiful city. It was huge and seemed to go on forever and ever. The buildings were beautiful and I don't have words to describe how wonderful and immense it was. As I walked toward the center I noticed the light. The whole city was well lit but I could not see where the light was coming from. Then I saw Him. He was seated on a throne in the center of the city and all light was coming from Him. There was no one in this city. It seemed to me then that everyone in the previous room was waiting to come here. That is why they were so excited and happy. They were coming here. I walked up to the throne and fell on my face before it. Jesus told me to stand and I got up and faced Him. Love was pouring out of Him so that I felt I could asked Him anything. I cried out to Him and told Him that all my friends and relatives were trapped in the lower room and would never come to this place. He said they all could come but did not know they were invited. I plead with Him to do something for them and He said, 'Hurin, I am sending you. You invite them here and show them the way.' Then suddenly the whole city was full of music and it overcame me and I fell down. Then I was awake in my bed and the pain was completely gone. As the doctors tended me and the swelling went down they could not understand it. I was not scarred. It was a miracle. I came back to Gondor and I began working harder than ever. God gave me a word that told me that I would not only tell my story in Gondor but all over Middle Earth. Since then I have spoken to thousands of people in a dozen countries telling them about God's great invitation and the beautiful place He has prepared for all of us.
Hurin has been traveling for the last couple of years but last year came back to Gondor. He loves telling people about Jesus. What about you? When was the last time you shared with someone about God's great love for us? Invite them in. They are welcome at the throne. I hope we don't need to be blown up to be motivated to share our faith. Lord, just set us on fire!