Central Asia Day # 3
We arrived at the ministry offices to a very warm welcome from the staff. Linda led us in a devotional out of Deuteronomy and the Psalms about God going before us and God goin after us. J led us in a few songs while playing the accordion. Allison led us in a briefing of the ministry network in the Middle East. We then split up to pack food and toy bags. R took Jamie, Wendy, Stephanie, and Me on a visit. We had planned on doing two visits but our first one took over 2 hours. We visited a young Syrian refugee lady named "M" that R had visited previously. She had also previously been at a Wednesday night service at R's church. R had been led to speak on the widow and the mite from Mark 12. When he was finished this same lady had 35 cents to her name and was moved to give all she had in the offering. When she returned home she had received a note that her monthly rent for her apartment had been covered!
M had called R because she had fallen and had just had surgery on her knee. She has three children; 2 girls and a boy. Her sister was there with her daughter, visiting from another Middle Eastern country. There was another young lady present whom we have not yet identified. We were welcomed in and sat with all of them in a fairly small room. There was some couch space but mostly floor space with cushions. We were served hot tea and some various sweets. We all were introduced and R led us in asking questions to discover their story. We talked for almost an hour; learning about M, her husband, and their three kids, what they had suffered in Damascus, and their journey to here. M shared her frustrations with being laid up and not being able to do what she wants to do. She shared of the beauty of Syria and how she misses it. H shared about her restrictive living conditions. She talked of how she is mostly confined to home and she looks out the bars on the windows and wonders where God is. It suddenly came out, to our surprise, that M’s injury was caused by her husband getting mad and pushing her down the stairs. There was much talk of the situation and of her being physically abused on almost a daily basis. He has broken both of her hands, done damage to her ribs, and now he has seriously injured her knee. He is also very emotionally abusive and controlling. Stephanie was able to give her some very good, practical advise on how to interact with her husband from now on. R cued me to share something about God. I was led to talk about where we look for happiness and joy. If you try to find happiness and joy on the outside, like in Syria’s beauty, or in your marriage, or even out the bars of the windows on your home, you will be very disappointed. God is not just on the outside. He want’s to have a relationship with us and live on the inside. He wants to be the source of our joy, and he never, ever disappoints us. I elaborated on some of this thinking while R translated. We talked some more, gave toys to the kids, and it was time to leave. They told us that we had to come back before we left so they could make us a Syrian dinner. Driving back to the ministry office we discussed the visit. R seemed very, very please with the way the Spirit had led, and we all felt that both women were ready to hear the gospel. Needless to say, it was a very heart wrenching visit for all of us. Praise God for how He led and that He is calling those ladies to himself.
Robert, Linda, and Sue visited with J. They did two visits in the morning and 1 visit in the afternoon. They were able to help build relationships with the ministry and to encourage the people they visited.
We had lunch back at the office.
J took Jamie, Wendy, Stephanie, and Me out in the afternoon. We visited an Iraqi refugee family from Baghdad. They have five kids ranging from 9 months to 12 years. They are in a desperate situation financially. He has tried to work at a grocery store. After 20 days the owner found out he was a refugee and kicked him out without pay. Gina cleans houses a few days a week but earns very little money. They need their rent for the month ($280) and money for formula for the 9 month old, which is about $80/month. A lady connected to the ministry had paid their rent last month. We were able to try to encourage them with God’s love and dedication to them, and we prayed for them for all of their needs and for their emotional, spiritual, and physical needs being met by God. J supplied some money for them from the ministry for formula and for food. We gave the food bags and some toys for the kids. S is part of the Stephen Ministry and is the man of peace for this family. He helped us with this visit.
We returned to the hotel and had a few hours before dinner. Jamie and I worked out in the hotel gym. J and R picked us up for dinner at 7:30. After dinner we went over to J and S house for tea and apple cake. We also had a time of singing and J played to piano. It was a nice visit. Off to bed!