The Story of Mical, The Story of One
I knocked on the door, just like the last fifteen doors before it. We were going around a local hotel where the refugees have been set up in longterm housing, inviting them to come to a free lunch with us the next afternoon. So far with every door that was opened, a kind somewhat confused person smiled back at us, took the flyer from our hands and politely excused themselves from further conversation. Truth be told, I get that. When people knock on my door, the introvert in me hides under the bed.
So anyway, on the third floor of this hotel, we stood in front of the door at the end of the hallway and just to the left. I can still see the layout in my memory as clearly as if I were there now. I knocked this time, as we had been taking turns. A few awkward one-mississipi, two-mississipis passed, and then she opened the door.
In an oversized hoodie with what would soon be known to me as her signature hat, Mical smiled confidently and casually at the strangers in the doorway.
“Hey, whats up?” She said in perfect English.
Our friend Raza began to speak about the lunch the next day, and Mical, inquisitively interrupted, pointing a finger at me and Mark, “Where are you guys from?”
“America! Florida!” I say, enthusiastically. I notice the oddness of my eager tone, and check internally “Whats up with you, Shan? Be cool!” But I couldn’t. I was so encouraged just to stand face to face with her at the door. Something about it felt important, but I couldn’t explain it - not then anyway.
“Oh wow, why are you in Germany? No offense but I would never come to Germany if I lived in Florida. It’s too cold here.” She says matter of factly. I like her already.
“Oh really? Is it warm where you’re from?” I say, still trying to muffle the excited tone betraying my “cool demeanor”.
“Oh yes, I’m from Saudi Arabia and it’s very warm there. I miss the heat. Why are you guys here all the way from Florida? In this hotel of all places?”
“Well,” I say, reaching for the right words, “I came to listen. I’ve seen the news, I know this refugee crisis is exploding right now, but I came for individuals. I want to hear their stories, if they’ll tell me, and I want to share them with the world.”
After a long moment she said simply, “I think the people will love that. I think they will want to tell you their stories. Thank you for wanting to listen."
“Of course. It’s the least any of us can do. Will you come to the lunch tomorrow?”
“Sure, I’ve been once before, I liked it. I’ll come tomorrow if you’ll be there.”
“YAY…. I mean.. erm, yes, cool. See you then.” and as I began to walk away, I turn around and call back to her, “you’ll have to teach me some of your fashion tips on how to stay warm in winter and still look cool. I’m currently failing at it!”
Mical laughed and nodded as she shut the door.
The next day when she walked in the door of our lunch gathering, I lit up. “Come sit with me! Come sit with me! Right here!” I said, waiving and still not passing as cool.
She sat down and we talked for a long time. I tried to remember all of these details as best I could, but some of these specifics (timelines and such) could be slightly off. I learned that she and her family were once living in Saudi Arabia, and part of the underground Catholic church there. In Saudi, it’s illegal to be an active Christian or to participate in religious activities that are not Islam. Soon, they were caught by the authorities for their underground church activities. Mical, her mother, her younger sister and her younger brother were imprisoned for four months for their illegal religious activities. Her father was sentenced to four years, and is still serving out his sentence in Saudi Arabia now. When Mical and her family were done with their sentence, they were deported. Somehow, they made their way to Sudan. Her mother found an opportunity to send one of her children to Europe - the story includes a look-alike passport, a plane ticket to Germany and a lot of money they couldn't truly afford to give. It is very vey expensive to come to Europe, as there are a lot of bribes and price increases because the people are desperate to leave their unsafe countries. So her mom could only send one child, and she sent her oldest daughter, Mical, on her own to Germany all alone for the chance at a new life.
And Mical went. Because she is brave and she is strong and she is one of my heroes and I have everything to learn from her.
Because she had a plane ticket and a “passport” she was able to avoid the horrors along the refugee highway. (The refugee highway is the nickname given to the route asylum-seekers take to get from their originating country to safe places in Europe. It is full of stories of crashed boats killing all passengers, cargo trucks filled with people so full there's not even enough space for breathing room, rapes, murders, abductions, starvation, and more.) She tells me later that she is so grateful to God for the ability to skip the journey process and to fly here, even though it was still so scary to go alone.
Frankfurt is the final destination for thousands and thousands of refugees, as it was for Mical. When she arrived in Frankfurt, she was sent to Giessen, a small town about a 30 minute train ride from Frankfurt where there are two government refugee camps set up to receive people. At Giessen, she was given shelter, asylum status and a place to sleep.
It was also at Giessen that she learned she was five months pregnant.
When she shared this with me in the middle of a crowded lunch room, now six and a half months pregnant, I felt totally shocked. She didn’t look pregnant at all! But then again, she was always wearing loose-fitting tops. My mind went through a range of emotions before settling in on joy. New. Life.
She said when she first found out she was pregnant she was terrified, she didn’t want to keep the baby, but it was too far along to even consider an alternative. She was having this baby whether she wanted to or not. She told me that her ex-boyfriend is back in Saudi and she wants nothing to do with him ever again. I didn’t press for details, but I think I understand the sentiment. It’s one I’ve heard many times from women in troubled situations.
She said that at first it was scary, but in the past month she had started to soften and come around to the idea of being a mother. At the time she was considering naming her son Elijah. I smiled, and I asked her, "what does Elijah mean to you?" With a smile back, she said simply, “that God is always good.”
We talked for much longer, then I said “Mical, I would love for our team to pray for you. Would you be okay with that?” She agreed and asked us to walk with her down the street to a church she knew of, she said she loves the sanctuary space there to sit and think and pray.
We walked, and we sat with her on the steps, and each of us prayed for her, for her unborn son, and for God’s goodness to continue to be known through their lives.
The next few days, we were working all over the city and even went to Giessen ourselves one day. Even in meeting so many faces and connecting with so many people, my thoughts found their way back to Mical constantly. I wanted to see her again. I had something I needed to give her.
You see, before we left for Germany, a couple of friends came over to my house to pray over us. One of them, Elle, had been praying the night before when the Lord told her to give something of value to me, so I could give it to someone God wanted me to meet on my trip. That morning she handed me a beautiful silver ring and said, “You’ll know who to give it to and what to tell them when you do.”
I had been wearing this ring on my finger the whole trip, wondering who it was for - until that day at lunch, as Mical spoke I looked down at my finger and the Spirit said, “It’s her, but not now.”
So I waited until the last day, when I felt it was the right time, and we went on the hunt to find her.
It’s relatively impossible to find a refugee, because they typically don’t have phones or internet with any regularity. I had tried texting the number she gave me, tried reaching out on social media, but hadn’t heard back. So I said, “Guys, let’s go back to where I first met her.” My team, as ever, was completely down to follow me all over Frankfurt to find this girl.
As we walked up to the door of the hotel, we remembered that you have to have a key to get in. I felt instantly crushed. We didn’t even know if she was home, but now we couldn’t get in to knock on her door! But Mark, being led by the Lord, walked to the side of the building. Later he told us that he felt God saying “Just look over there.” As he turned the corner, there she was, sitting outside with Mickey and Sami.
A little lightness returned to my step as I hurried over to sit with them. We sat there that afternoon until the sun went down. We laughed, we talked, we learned more about each other. I felt so restful and at peace, like I was exactly where I was supposed to be. Have you ever felt that way?
God said to me “It’s time, give her the ring, I will tell you what to say as you start talking.” So, I stole Mical away for a private conversation. I said, "I have something to give you” and pulled out the ring. Mical joked, "um are we getting engaged?”
Laughing I said "no, but this is definitely about promises." I went on to tell her about Elle who had sensed God wanting to give this ring to someone through me on the trip, and I told Mical I knew it was her. I said, "Mical, this is what God is saying to you right now: This ring is a symbol of my faithfulness to you. Wear it like a promise: I will carry you. I will sustain you. I will devote myself to you. You will be safe with me. Tell the world that you are mine and I am yours.”
As I shared this, she batted away tears. “Is this really for me? Are you serious?”
“Yes. God has coordinated many things for me to be here and to give this to you and to share His promise with you.”
A little backstory on the ring’s original owner, Elle. Two years ago she became a single mother. I won’t share the details of her story - nor do I know them in full, but I can tell you for sure that becoming a single mother seemed daunting and scary at first.
And in that season, about six months pregnant, the Lord spoke to Elle with a ring. He gave her this ring and He said, “Elle, this is my protection over you. This is a symbol of my strength and my promise over you.” This is the same ring she sent overseas 2 years later, with no inclination where or for whom it was meant, never knowing it was going to a girl, six months pregnant, desperate to hear the same words. Further, I had no idea about any of this. So when I spoke the words I thought I heard the Lord saying to Mical, I had no idea the legacy I was passing down to her.
These days, for Elle, it is obvious that her son was one of the greatest gifts of her life (and in the life of our church). God’s faithfulness to Elle has been so clear in these past two years. Her son has been the avenue through which victory has come to many people in our community, Elle included. He is a light, a gift directly from Heaven. It is not lost on me that she, with this backstory, was prompted to give a ring to Mical, who is at the beginning of a similar journey of single motherhood. Speaking of her son, his name is Maddox Elliot. Elliot being the english version of Elijah. YEAH.
And suddenly I remembered the prayer that started my entire journey to Germany. Many months ago, I was alone in my room, with nothing on my horizon as far as travel, or refugee work, or anything at all in that area. I cried out to God, saying, “Even if I share your love with just one, wrap my arms around just one hurting mother, it will have been worth it all. Send me Lord. My arms ache to be Your arms in this.”
This morning, back home in America, as I began to write the stories that I collected from the trip, I asked God “Did I do enough? Why did you send me there, God? I accomplished so very little, it seems. What was the point?”
He reminded me of my prayer (that in hindsight, was radically prophetic): to wrap my arms around even one hurting mother, to be Love to even one, and He said quietly, “Mical.”
“Mical was my answer to you. My love is not measured in efficiency. My love is not only for all, but for each one. It is lavish, excessive, unrelenting. Tell the world. I will spare no expense. I will cross oceans for each and every one of my children.”
So you see, this story is about Mical. But more so, this is the story of God’s devotion to one, in a sea of many. This, to me, is a story of the Father’s heart. The magnitude and sincerity of His dedication to each one of us is beyond my comprehension, beyond words, beyond sufficiency. I pray that He reveals His father's heart to you through this story in ways my mere words never could.