When One Door Closes…
“I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked.” Psalm 84:10
Bob Scudieri’s Blog:
At Concordia Seminary our third year was a “vicarage.” We were not quite pastors but pastors in training. It was one of the best educations I ever had. My vicarage supervisor was Pr. Walter Grumm, chair of the Mission Board of the then “Northern California District.” Walt was encouraging, patient, kind and challenging. I learned a lot from him, as well as from the people of God at Bethlehem Lutheran in Monterey California.
After a month at Bethlehem I knew everything that I was going to say in my first sermon. It fell short of what a sermon should be, the announcement of God’s gracious love. One irate worshiper scolded me on the way out: “I get beat up enough during the week. I do not have to come to church to hear it again.” Things got better. Near the end of the vicarage I was greeting worshipers at the church door after preaching a sermon and another member said, “You will make a great door keeper.” I assumed she meant what the writer of Psalm 84 intended – she expected I could someday enable the people of God to come into His presence.
(Bethlehem Lutheran, Monterey, Ca.)
Tesfai Tesema walked through a door in Saudi Arabia. For him it was a door of no return. We thought so much of Tesfai’s journey that we published his biography, “No Accidental Missionary.” You can purchase the book at your local church through the Making of A Missionary book display. It is also available on line by clicking here.
Before his time in Saudi Arabia, the first door he walked through was a jail cell in Eritrea, He had been put in prison by the then communist government. He never expected he would walk out alive, but he did. That door was “accidentally” opened. A miracle which allowed the atheist to escape and begin a long and danger filled trek
to Saudi Arabia. There, another door unexpectedly opened – by a greater miracle than a jail door swinging open unexpectedly Tesfai became a Christian – yes, in Saudi Arabia! As a part of the Saudi underground church he used every means to tell Muslims about Jesus. Unable to contain the joy and hope and love that lived in him, he caught the attention of the wrong people. One day he came home to find a threatening note from the local police. To save his family he had to exit the country. It is a truism that when God closes one door He opens another.
The only country he could legally emigrate to was Sudan.
Life was not easy in the new country. Refugees were overwhelming the government’s capacity to care for them. People, Tesfai and other Christians, slept on the ground in a park. The small Christian community opened their arms to them, but while there was great love to share there wasn’t much earthly treasure. No matter the challenge, the refugees from Saudi Arabia began an Eritrean worship service. The numbers grew. More churches were begun. The Word of God spread like a wild fire. Then, another door – this one truly unexpected – a visa to the United States. Today Tesfai Tesema is a missionary in San Jose, California. He is opening doors for Eritreans and the door of a congregation of ethnically diverse young millennials. Who could have believed an atheist from Ethiopia could be brought to the United States as a Christian missionary?
This was no accident. Jesus made a bold claim in John 10: 7,“Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved…” In Tesfai’s life this has proven to be true many times. It is true in my life and, I expect you can say the same.
Doors close on you and me all the time but one door always remains open, the door to a cross, the door to a grave, the door to salvation – the door that opens after one door closes, the door to salvation opened by our Lord to pastures no human could ever expect.