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What Love Looks Like on the Field

February 10, 2021

What Love Looks Like on the Field

February 10, 2021

Hannah is a new missionary who joined the Asia Pacific team in February of 2020. She has been ministering to Muslim refugee women in Southeast Asia, most of whom have been trafficked to be child brides. She meets with them weekly to learn about their stories, hear what their needs are, and develop a deeper friendship so she can share the love of Christ with them.  Hannah invites us to see a glimpse of her friends’ lives as well as share what she is learning about what love looks like.

I’d like to introduce you to a few of my friends. There is so much that could be said, but what I’d love for you to take away from this is a sense of beauty, brokenness and hope.

Refugee woman preparing food“B” is fifteen, HIV positive, with a new baby who she can’t breastfeed. Her house consists of a boarded-up room barely big enough for a single mattress with an old fan as the only relief from the heat. Still, she invites me in and gives me a smile and the best food she has. A few months ago, her husband beat her until her face was black and blue. I haven’t seen her since he was arrested, but I remember how kind she was and the strength with which she carried herself.

“S” is sixteen and expecting her second baby. Her mother is dead, her father married her off and left before she turned thirteen. She tells me that she is lucky to have a good husband who doesn’t beat her. To them, abuse is a fairly normal part of being a wife.

“J” is twenty-two and knows eight languages. She dreamed of being a doctor or a teacher, but here she will never be any of those. She hopes to one day be resettled to another country so that her daughter can have the future she always wanted. Instead of sitting around, she takes it upon herself to teach the refugee children in her neighborhood.

“H” is a hard woman. You can hear it in her voice and see it in the way she walks. She’s been here for longer than most, having escaped the camps just to arrive in another country that doesn’t want her. One day, we were able to webcam her elderly mother back in the refugee camps. She cried. They will probably never see each other again. But then she dried her tears and fed me some of her amazing curry, picking out each tiny fishbone by hand.

woman sitting with child So… I’m new to this work, and my biggest question so far has been, “What does it look like to reach these women with the Gospel?” It’s easy to talk in grand, vague terms - I did a lot of that myself, before coming here. We could throw money and programs at them, but is that enough? They aren’t numbers to be counted, projects to complete or problems to fix. They are souls made in His image--dignified, valuable and complex, just like us.

Dignified and valuable and complex, just like us. 1 Corinthians tells us the better way. Love. Here’s what that passage has looked like for me in the last few months.

Love is patient. Love is kind. Love will sit on the floor for hours and eat curry so spicy it burns all the way to the next day. Love is willing to struggle and look like a complete fool, trying to learn a language that no one cares about. Love comes ready to listen–even if I only understand every twentieth word. Love gets burned fingers trying to learn how to make flat bread. Love takes the time to learn names and favorite colors. Love comes back, week after week, with a smile and a chunk of watermelon.

I often feel like these women love me. I am a stranger in this country, and they have welcomed me in as family. One day, I’ll have the words to tell them in their heart language about my Jesus. I hope that when I do, they won’t be too surprised because they’ve seen Him all along.

Please pray for my friends. Pray that the painful things in their lives would soften them towards God instead of turning them away. Pray for me that I can learn this tricky language and continue to love on these precious people. And pray for our little team, who is trying to meet their physical needs while caring for their souls.