Jesus said, “truly i say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for my sake and for the gospel’s sake, but that he will receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life.” mark 10:29-30
it is a difficult, painful thing to leave one's home and family — this we know from experience. the calling of God to uproot and 'go to the land which i will show you' is a costly one, especially if you love the people and the life that you left behind. the wrestling with God and with one another has filled many a conversation, and we've shed more than a few tears in the process.
but God is ever faithful. he has promised that, along with persecutions, we would receive back a hundred times as much, now in the present age (not to mention eternal life), and this year, he's made a big down payment. the international student bible study was more than a ministry; it was really like a family. and it's been a privilege to be a part of that family, to be in the lives of so many people from so many places, here in this crossroads of the world. we've eaten meals together, played together, and sought God in his word together — people who don't yet believe as full participants alongside people who believe firmly, more recent converts challenging and sharpening the old-timers (and vice-versa). what a delight it's been to gather together around the table in the name of Jesus, every week over the course of this year! these are people whom i love.
of course, all of that makes the thought of parting a tearful one. when the group gave us a photo scrapbook commemorating our time together, we were thrilled — what a beautiful gift — and yet i wasn't ready to read the notes they had written. what i really didn't want to do was say 'goodbye.' sometimes, i'm comforted by the thought that we're going to have family all over the world. but what lifts my spirits even more is the prospect of a family reunion in eternity!
now it will come about that in the last days, the mountain of the house of the LORD will be established as the chief of the mountains, and will be raised above the hills; and all the nations will stream to it. and many peoples will come and say, "come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of jacob; that he may teach us concerning his ways and that we may walk in His paths." isaiah 2:2-3