"Smiles and Extended Hands"
(by Tim Miller)

7-13-2012 Church Within SOW Seeds Service - Story #695

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Greetings my Dearest Sisters and Brothers, and welcome again to Church Within's Story of the Week ["SOW Seeds”].

This week's SOW Seeds Story, contributed by: Patije

Story of the Week
Smiles and Extended Hands
(by Tim Miller)

It was a tumultuous time. In 1986 I was an American living in Cairo, Egypt. America had just bombed Gaddafi's tent compound in Libya, and Gaddafi had issued a death threat to all Americans in the region.

Internal strife in Egypt was building, too, from changes initiated by Hosni Mubarak after Anwar Sadat's assassination. Next, the Egyptian military police rioted and burned down the Holiday Inn complex by the Giza Pyramids.

In spite of the unrest, I still felt safe walking the Egyptian streets. But after the bombing and riots, it seemed more and more folks stared or frowned at me. Maybe they assumed I was an American who thought I was somehow "better off" than they were. Probably my self-conscious expression didn't help.

At dusk one evening, I headed along a dimly lit sidewalk towards a local grocery. Cairo sidewalks were always lined with Egyptian men -- socializing, sharing cigarettes, and talking of the day's events. This night, it seemed as if their mood and conversational tone changed just as I approached. I felt negatively judged.

Worried, I avoided eye contact and looked away as I quickened my pace towards the grocery. Then, wham! I slammed face-first into the sidewalk. I was so busy "not" looking that I missed a step.

I was immediately surrounded by several men. Being used to city streets in America, I must admit my first thought was they were going to take my wallet.

Then I realized they were just lifting me up to set me back up on my feet. They brushed me off, straightened my clothes and asked if I was hurt. I said I was fine, smiled at everyone and shook their hands to thank them for their help.

I suddenly realized these men were all smiling back. In fact, as I turned to see other men, women, and children along the sidewalk, they too smiled and asked if I was OK. I smiled, nodded, thanked everyone for the help and concern, and headed on.

But now, something was different. Everywhere I went, every Egyptian was smiling. In fact, I couldn't find stares or frowns anywhere. For the first time, I felt not a foreigner in a foreign land, but rather a friend among friends. I suddenly felt at home, though over 8,000 miles from my family.

That night the Egyptians showed me what humanity really is. In spite of regional political and economic upheaval, they refused to judge me because I was an American.

Their reaching out to me with helping hands and smiles made me realize that maybe they were "better off" than I was. That night, I learned that a smile is an important gesture in our universal language, a simple act of kindness that transcends cultural and language barriers.

Today I'm so very thankful for that brief moment in time. A moment where a simple smile enabled an Arab and an American to understand each other, and where I came away a changed man.

Pastor's Quote of the Week
Said Jesus: “A certain man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell into the hands of cruel brigands, who robbed him, stripped him and beat him, and departing, left him half dead. Very soon, by chance, a certain priest was going down that way, and when he came upon the wounded man, seeing his sorry plight, he passed by on the other side of the road. And in like manner a Levite also, when he came along and saw the man, passed by on the other side. Now, about this time, a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed down to Jericho, came across this wounded man; and when he saw how he had been robbed and beaten, he was moved with compassion, and going over to him, he bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine, and setting the man upon his own beast, brought him here to the inn and took care of him. And on the morrow he took out some money and, giving it to the host, said: 'Take good care of my friend, and if the expense is more, when I come back again, I will repay you.' Now let me ask you: Which of these three turned out to be the neighbor of him who fell among the robbers?” And when the lawyer perceived that he had fallen into his own snare, he answered, “He who showed mercy on him.” And Jesus said, “Go and do likewise.”

(From: The Urantia Book - Paper-164 Section-1)

The Prayer
Dear God,        
        Help us to understand All of our Brothers and Sisters.

You ALL are Within the Infinitely Loving Embrace of our Universal Parent,

The Creator's Eternal Love to all of You,
Pastor Daniel

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