On Capitol Hill, A Warm (And Miraculous) Welcome For Open Doors’ Guest From Kenya

February 10, 2016 by Kristin Wright in , ,

I’m walking through the Old Senate Chamber in the U.S. Capitol with Gladys, Open Doors’ special guest from Kenya. Gladys arrived in mid-January to share her firsthand story of persecution at the Open Doors World Watch List Press Conference. I was honored to escort this courageous woman of faith to a series of meetings on Capitol Hill.

At the end of our last day of meetings, I took Gladys on a brief tour of the U.S. Capitol.

As we wandered into the Old Senate Chamber, we were met by a volunteer in a red jacket, an elderly gentlemen with a calm manner. “Where are you ladies from?” he asked with a quiet inquisitiveness, following us into the chamber.

“Kenya,” Gladys answered with a smile.

To my astonishment, he responded in fluent Swahili, taking both of Gladys’ hands in his as he asked her about her trip, and how she was enjoying Washington DC.

I could see instant surprise and delight on her face as she began conversing with this man in her own language, in the middle of the U.S. Capitol. The warmth from their connection affected me and everyone standing around us.

When I explained that Gladys was here speaking on behalf of Christians who are persecuted for their faith, I noted a solemnity and gravity to his response. After a few seconds of silence he said, “I need to give you a hug.” And he did. After I snapped a photo of them at Gladys’ request, I asked, “So when were you in Kenya?”

“Oh,” he said, with a modest shrug to his shoulders. “I was never in Kenya.”

In that moment, as the words came out of his mouth, I sensed something in the deepest part of my soul about this man. It’s hard to even describe! I suddenly felt hot tears streaming down my face and a lump in my throat.

“How many languages do you speak?” I heard myself asking.

Inexplicably, I already knew the answer was one of vastness. He smiled almost knowingly.

“I speak 61 languages,” he said, adding, “It’s why God put me on this earth.”

“That’s why he put you here?” my voice trailed off while I processed his words.

“It’s a very meaningful thing, to speak someone’s language,” he said simply.

That evening, Gladys and I both left the Capitol overwhelmed at this man’s act of love in intentionally speaking the languages of those who come across his path. Each of our meetings during that week seemed marked with a sense of God’s presence – and this final interaction was no exception.

It’s always a great privilege to welcome to Washington DC a guest from a country where Open Doors is at work. If you would like to learn more about what is happening with Open Doors on Capitol Hill, sign up to receive our monthly Advocacy Update.

Thank you for being a voice for those who are persecuted!

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