“For I know the plans I have for you….” (Jeremiah 29:11).
I met my husband while in graduate school in California. I had come from Australia to do a masters in animal science, and Jim was in physics, an unbreachable academic divide, which explains why we did not meet in class! We had a mutual friend who invited me to his Bible study. The group was composed of physics graduate students and it was there I noticed a quiet, studious guy who sat in the corner and didn’t speak unless asked a difficult theological question. This annoyed me, as I’d done a yearlong discipleship school and was sure I knew just as much as he did. But they were all guys and I was a woman! That strange fellow piqued my interest, but I didn’t get to know him until we divided into pairs to discuss an issue that had come up in our study. (I might mention that meeting in pairs was suggested by the women I invited to the group. Male physicists would never engage in social activities like that on their own!)
Of course, I got paired with Jim, and after an evening of vigorous debate we became fast friends, which later evolved into romance. However, I had no intention of remaining in this country once my degree was finished, so I left the US with no clear idea of what was to become of our relationship. What I did not bargain for was how much I would miss him. After many expensive phone calls, a Christmas visit and much prayer, we announced our engagement. My plan was to go to California, get married, and return to Australia together once Jim finished his degree. Oh the best laid plans! Someone once said, “If you want to make God laugh, just tell him your plans.”
While Jim began the long process of applying for a fiancé visa so I could reenter the US and marry, I was meeting with the American Consulate in Melbourne. The process was arduous, and the consular general took pity on me and offered to give me a tourist visa instead, with the idea that I would apply for immigrant status after we were married.
All looked promising, but soon after Jim cancelled the fiancé petition, the American consulate cancelled my tourist visa as well and ordered me to return my passport and papers to the consulate. When I arrived, the amiable consulate official was no longer there. Instead, I was met by two women who accused me of lying about my intentions for entering the US. This did not sit well with me as I hate dishonesty and being unjustly accused. They told me that I’d really made a mess of things and there was little chance I’d be able to return to America with my husband after we were married.
I left upset and fuming and struggled with God in prayer over all that had happened. But then I felt Him tell me that the outcome was in His Hands and I had to be concerned with how I was going to respond. Was I going to love the women who had unjustly accused me and seemed intent on punishing me and making my life miserable? Could I? I certainly didn’t want to. I wanted to scorch them with the fires of my just wrath! But God’s still, quiet voice was clear. Loving them was to be my only concern.
I’d like to say it was easy but it wasn’t. As I tried to navigate the murky waters of the American immigration system and organize a wedding with my fiancé half a world away, I faced many struggles and failures. I hope I showed love to my nemeses, but I really don’t remember. What I will never forget are the words God spoke to me which remain
as important today as they were then. He holds my future in His Hands, and my job is not to fret but to trust His plan and to love and have compassion on those He brings across my path.
This is the second ‘coming to America’ story recently printed in these pages. In my case I was not fleeing poverty, violence or persecution. In fact, I never even wanted to leave my homeland, and I especially did not plan to raise my children here. I ended up doing all of those things, and it hasn’t been easy. But God was faithful, allowed us to marry, and brought me here, first as a resident and now a dual citizen. However, I can’t help but think about the thousands who have fled or are escaping terrible conditions and violence and are without a safe nation for themselves. As Christians we may not know the right political solutions, but we must know that God would want us to respond with compassion, mercy and love, just as He showed me and asked me to show others. As Pastor Ron recently preached, we must follow the true Jesus. The Bible teaches us to love our neighbor as ourselves, welcome the stranger, care for the poor and needy, the oppressed, feed the hungry, and care for the orphan and widow. God held, and still holds, my future in His Hands. We should at least be concerned and praying for these people and their futures, individually and corporately, and be willing to help as God directs, just as people prayed for and helped me.
“For those God foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of His Son…” Romans 8:29.
by Robyn (and Jim) Jadrich