2016 has been rough. So much bad news, so much confusion, so many instances where we’ve seen humanity at it’s worst. So many people I know are dealing with pain and loss. On top of that, this election is about to do me in. So I’m on the lookout for good news these days, maybe more than any time in recent memory.
So yesterday I was really encouraged by the lunch I shared with an old friend. Tobias (or Tobbes, for short) was a student of mine at when I worked as a campus minister / Bible teacher at the local Christian school over a dozen years ago. Tobbes came to the school as a foreign exchange student from Germany. My earliest memory of Tobbes was during the first few weeks of school. He had my class at the end of the day (8th period) and when we finished taking notes, he’d put his head on his desk and immediately fall asleep. After a few days of this, I asked him if he was okay; he replied that he was simply exhausted from the act of translation. He’d hear a statement in English, translate it into German, formulate an answer in German, and then have to translate it into English…and tens of thousands of these daily transactions were absolutely wearing him out.
Eventually the conversation became easier for Tobbes and we began to talk about faith. I can still recall some of our conversations after more than a dozen years. Following that year, Tobbes went back home to Germany where he studied at the university level. Thanks to Facebook, we’re able to stay in touch somewhat and he always gives me a call when he’s in the States.
Yesterday we caught up over TexMex (his dining choice, which was surprising) and I witnessed a vibrant faith in action, which struck me as good news for several reasons. For one, Tobbes is absolutely brilliant – he has graduate degrees in physics and aeronautics and is currently working on his PhD research in physics. In the highly academic environments in which Tobbes lives, faith is often viewed spuriously, yet Tobbes is unabashedly faithful. Also, much has been written about the Millennial exodus from the church, yet Tobbes sees much value in being a part of a local church. In fact, he teaches the discipleship / Christian growth class in his church. He was honest with me about some of his doubts — doubts that I hold as well — but none of these doubts were so great as to choke out the faith that holds his heart. Truly Christ is alive in my brother, fashioning him into a force for the Kingdom.
I needed that bit of good news today.