In Early Christianity, amid the rampant persecution of believers, Jesus’ followers had a secret way of identifying one another. They traced a little curve in the dirt. If the other person was a Christian, he or she would make another curve—with the two lines forming a “fish” symbol. The Greek word for “fish” is IXTHYS, which the Christians used as code to signify each first letter of the words “Jesus,” “Christ,” “Son,” “of God,” “Savior.” Thus, Christians identified and helped one another. My visa application process for Pakistan was nerve-wracking. Due to some glitch, even 4 days before my departure I didn’t know whether I would be allowed into the country. Almost at the last minute, I took a different approach (thanks to a clever idea my wife Lula had) and immediately received a “partial visa” online—albeit one which had to be completed on arrival. So, when Dr. Bombaro and I finally landed in Islamabad at 3 AM, I was slightly anxious as to whether the completion of the visa process would work—or whether they might send me back. Even at that hour, there were hundreds of people waiting in line to get through passport control. As we were taking in this scene, a man came up to us, flashed a piece of paper with our pictures on it, and said, “Is this you?” Gulp. “Yes.” “Follow me.” He led us to a lonely counter. Within one minute, an officer had checked our paperwork and stamped our passports. Done. Next, he escorted us through the crowds to the exit, where we were met by our gracious Pakistani hosts, LCMS missionary Rev. Jay Dass and friends—who presented us with huge bouquets and Hawaiian-style leis. After the greetings, our new friend led us to baggage claim. “What was that all about?” we asked. Rev. Dass explained: “In a country where only one percent of the population is Christian, we believers identify and help one another.” Even almost 2,000 years later, some things haven’t changed. Praise God.
(Photo: J. Dass).