This morning, Jade and I were standing in a train station in Europe, eagerly waiting for Dilan, who was traveling three hours, one-way, just to see us. I had met Dilan 6 years ago, at my church in Bangkok. When my friends and I found out that Dilan and his wife were going to sell their wedding rings to pay for one more month of rent, we came together and made sure the family would be provided for while they were in Bangkok. About a year after we started helping them, Dilan and his family were resettled in Europe. Our friendship with Dilan inspired us to found Life Raft, but I hadn't seen him since he left Thailand. (You can read more about this story here)
As my eyes wandered around the station, I finally saw him, looking around the train station for us. I waved to him, and before I knew it, we were giving each other bear hugs. Seeing him, after more than 5 years was exhilarating. We left the station and walked around town, and he told me about his time in Europe. He was now fluent in his new country’s language, and was an elder at his church. For his children, their new country now felt like home, and he loved that his kids could get a quality education, and walk the streets in safety.
But in the midst of this, he told me that he desperately wanted to return to his home country. As soon as it was feasible, he planned to move back with his family. The fact that his family’s lives had been threatened did not steal his love for his country, or his hope for its redemption.
Midway through our walk, We went into a coffee shop, and ordered some coffee. Over his objections, I tried to pay with my credit card, but the old-fashioned machine did not accept it. He jumped in and paid with cash. As I apologized, and thanked him, he held up his hand, pointed to his wedding ring and said, “No, I would not have this without you. It is my pleasure.”
(This post was written by Chris Woodruff, our founder and executive director)