SIM UK worker Kate* shares how using her skills as an occupational therapist enables her to come alongside a family of refugees and share the message of the cross in the Middle East.
"As so often, I find myself sitting on the floor with a Muslim lady, who is crying while her 10-year-old daughter Suzie is absorbed in inane YouTube videos. Normally, I use my training to engage Suzie, who has autism, in more purposeful activities to help her concentrate and develop, but today I’m glad of the distraction, because the mum needs time.
Once again, I quickly realise that my western schedule is going to have to be shelved, but relationships: Isn’t that what it’s all about?
Yet so often, we want a fast fix, some kind of visual fruit for our labour so we can feel satisfied and move onto the next task of making Jesus known. But Jesus spent time with people — friends, enemies, social outcasts, religious men and he had time for children too. He mixed with ‘messy’ people who had ‘messy’ lives — and met them exactly where they were at.
This isn’t the first time this mum has cried with me. Life is hard. She left her home country with dreams of making a new life for her children in a western country, but feels trapped in a no-man’s-land waiting for the lengthy UN process of issuing a visa.
No job; no salary; a very demanding daughter with a learning disability; a silent son who isn’t achieving the standards at school his dad expects and a rocky marriage. And now the father had returned to his home country, so what now? Yet in the middle of this messy life, God is working. The mum suddenly asks me whether Jesus my prophet can heal her daughter because she’d heard a story about him healing a sick girl in my holy book.
I dodged the question. Of course, I believe Jesus can heal, but do I believe he will? Do I even believe the daughter has something to be healed from? Hasn’t God in his wisdom made her as she is? Once again, I am seeing things from my western mindset and think maybe the mum has more faith than me.
To bide for time, I ask how she’s heard about this? It turns out she is hungry for truth and has been listening to podcasts by an Arabic pastor. She tells me the gospel message and I sit amazed at what the Holy Spirit is doing as she shares more of her heart.
Although I struggle to understand the depth of what she’s saying, finally, I pray with her and the tears stop — at least for the time being.
I’ve just heard that she and the children have returned to their home country. Messy lives, but a faithful God who is working and is not limited by country or religious borders.
An unfinished story, with no nice, neat, happy ever-after ending just yet? Or maybe there is? Suzie’s mother heard the gospel message through the podcast of a local pastor. Of course, the ultimate outcome is with our heavenly Father, and I am thankful to see how he works through the Holy Spirit to use many different ways and people to ensure others hear the Good News of Jesus Christ.” *Name changed
Give thanks for a faithful God who is not limited by country or religious borders.
For more opportunities for Kate to reach out with compassion and build relationships with her neighbours.
For stamina and wisdom as Kate leads the team serving cross-culturally in the Middle East.