'Break Their Hearts, Lord': Lost in Translation
By John Schafer
The 700 Club
CBN.com -- Editor's note: This is the story of a CBN producer's struggle with the calling on his life. By leaving the comforts of home and reaching out to the tsunami survivors, his life was transformed forever.
Arrived with No
Place to Go
We arrived in Medan early Sunday morning. Henry shook my hand and thanked me for coming to help his people. The plane was rather quiet as the passengers gathered their belongings and waited for the crew to open the door. The flight attendant finally released the hatch, and the tropical air filled the cabin.
As I stepped out of the plane, the dust and petroleum fumes burned my eyes and nose. At the same time, the noise level rose as if someone had cranked up the volume on a stereo. Military personnel and news agencies from around the world were either loading or unloading their equipment and supplies. People were yelling in their native tongues to their colleagues or family members. The roar of helicopters taking off and landing was endless. I have never seen so many different makes of helicopters from so many countries in one place at one time. It was utter chaos, yet I was at peace and decided to take in the experience and to enjoy the moment.
I joined a line in front of the customs agent. Everyone ahead of me was being redirected to the Immigration Office. I didn’t understand a word anyone around me was saying. I searched for a familiar face in the crowd beyond the customs area, but I did not see anyone from our offices. I had hoped to see someone holding a sign with my name on it. All the while, I was inching closer to the customs agent. When I finally reached the counter, he grabbed my passport and gave it a thorough looking over. Then He slammed his stamp on the passport, validating my entry into the country.
I was in, just like that. It seemed all too easy. When things go that smoothly, it seems to be the very time that the rug will be pulled right out from under you. And it was.
I made it to Medan, but my luggage was nowhere in sight. I stood there waiting long after the other passengers had claimed their luggage. There was no one around when the conveyer belt slammed to a stop and the luggage handlers came in. Their work was complete. There I stood, after 32 hours of travel, not understanding what anyone was saying and feeling very alone.
I had a decision to make. I could have freaked out, gotten discouraged, and allowed frustration to snatch the peace I’d begun to enjoy, or I could calmly accept the inconvenience of losing my luggage. After all, I was in a country where tens of thousands lost every one and everything that meant anything to them. My situation was insignificant as I compared it to the disaster outside the doors of that airport. It was an easy choice to make.
Just then, someone tapped me on the shoulder. When I turned to see who it was, there stood my new friend, Henry. He directed me to the claims people and served as my translator so I could file a missing luggage report. It could not have been coincidence that he came on the scene when I most needed help. It had to be God.
As I completed the report, I looked across the way, and in the distance I saw my friends Mike and John from CBN walking toward me. I was back on track. Eventually, the luggage was located, and we headed to our hotel.
God is Still Orchestrating
After having lunch and staying a few hours in Medan, the team wanted to return to the hotel to watch the premiere episode of CBN’s One Cubed on Global TV, which reaches all of Indonesia. As we watched the opening sequence, I had a flashback. Ten months before this trip, Mike and I were at the National Broadcasters Convention in Las Vegas. We were in a hotel room praying with our friends from CBN Indonesia. One of their prayers was about a man from Global TV that he and John met just days before the convention. Meeting him had clearly been one of God’s divine appointments. He asked if CBN had any programs for the youth of Indonesia. Of course, Mark introduced him to One Cubed. Now ten months later we were watching the answer to that very prayer. God can truly orchestrate.
Hit the Ground Running
Mike and I were responsible for video editing for our producers in the field. We worked with them to create segments from the Operation Blessing outreach in Banda Aceh, Meulaboh, and Sigli. The video packages would be sent to the U.S. via the Internet and would air within days as part of CBN’s telethon. The next three days were grueling. The hours were long and we had very little time for sleep. We could not allow ourselves to be affected by jet lag; there simply was not time to spare.
Hour after hour we viewed dozens of tapes that showed the carnage left in the wake of the tsunami. Nature does not discriminate when it unleashes its wrath and fury. The footage was disturbing. We had not seen the likes of these images from any news source at home. God gave us the grace and the strength to move ahead with our projects.
Even though Mike and I were in Indonesia to edit video, I knew that was not our only reason for being there. It’s amazing how every circumstance, every situation and trial we encounter, prepares us for the next step. If God did not allow those trials in my life, I would not be here today.
The Million-Dollar Question
Our friend John from CBN Indonesia asked us if we would like to stay overnight in Banda Aceh with the news team. The Acehnese are a very proud people. They are some of the strictest Muslims in Indonesia because they adhere to Sharia Law -- a practice that closed that region to foreigners for more than a decade. Banda Aceh was hardest hit by the tsunami, and the law was not enforced now. The tsunami blew the door wide open.
The news media were reporting that the United Nations had concerns for the safety of relief workers, especially Westerners in the Aceh region. We saw the news reports, but we didn’t let fear sway our decision to go to Banda Aceh.
I remembered Gary’s prayer for us a few days before, “Break their hearts, Lord.” This prayer became a benchmark for Mike and me that would become a reference point for the new thing God began in our lives. The next day we flew to Banda Aceh.
View a slide show of John's trip to the victims of the tsunami in Indonesia
Read part one -- An American Views Tsunami Aftermath
Read part three -- Hiroshima Again
Read part four -- Deeply Overwhelmed
You can help the victims of the tsunami -- give to Operation Blessing's tsunami fund today.
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