Compatriot — fellow countryman, comrade, friend
Maybe it’s a stretch to think of a friend as a compatriot, but I think there’s something to the kind of connection nationality can bring. If you’ve ever spent an extended time in another country, you’ve probably experienced the joy of meeting one of your fellow countrymen on foreign soil.
After I graduated from college, I spent several weeks in Germany teaching English to German teens and trying to explain the love of God. I don’t really know any German, so it wasn’t easy for me to communicate. Fortunately, most of the kids spoke some English.
On one Saturday, the other missionaries took the kids swimming. I stayed back because I was feeling sorry for myself and wanted to accentuate that by sitting in the dormitory all alone. When they all got back, I could hear them whooping and hollering. The kids came running to tell me they had met someone at the pool, and they had brought her home with them.
I couldn’t believe my eyes. There standing in front of me, holding a duffel bag and wearing a huge smile was my friend from college, Kathy. She had just finished with some mission work she was doing, and was taking some time to wander around a bit. When she found out about the language school, she offered to come help.
She was my compatriot! And she brought me strength and hope and a huge reminder that I wasn’t alone. (A few days later several other friends of mine from college showed up on my doorstep too!)
Nationality isn’t the key to a true compatriot, though. No, a true compatriot is someone who comes from the same place as you, who stands on familiar ground, who looks forward to a united horizon. This friend is one you can count on despite the differences. He’s the person who pulls you out of the pit and puts you back in the battle. She’s the one you get to traverse enemy lines to rescue. The compatriot is the friend your bound to through your battle scars, denied dreams, and perseverance toward a goal that’s bigger than the both of you.
We all have compatriots in our lives. They just look a little different. Sometimes they cry a lot or forget your birthday or seem like just an acquaintance. But you’ll recognize them when they step into the ring with you, call your name, and point you toward hope.
So be on the lookout this week for your compatriots. Give them a hug, a smile, a salute, and remember you are not alone.