Friday, July 24, 2009

An Interesting Friday

Lots of days missionary life is not super exciting. I clean the house, cook food, go shopping, teach classes – fairly normal stuff. It does have some different wrinkles, being in a different language, in a strange place, but the things themselves are not extraordinary. But, every once in a while, I have a day that reminds me that I’m a missionary. Friday was one of those days.

Friday morning started with a princess beading party. Wade and Katie’s daughter Abby had her 10th birthday and for her party she wanted me to make necklaces with her and her friend Anna. So on Friday morning I was in my kitchen with beads spread all over the table teaching two little princesses how to make lovely necklaces and bracelets to accent their royalty. We were having a good time when I looked up and there was a woman with four little kids and two bowls standing in front of me.

I knew that she had probably come to ask me for something because she was holding out empty bowls, but she was using a word that I didn’t know so it took me a little bit to find out what she wanted. She was from the islands and she was going to return there the next day and she wanted me to give her some food for her children.

It’s really normal in Guinea-Bissau for people that we know to ask us for help when they need something and almost every time we do help them; however, it’s not really that normal for a Guinean to come into the house of someone they don’t know and ask for help, so I was totally thrown off. Sometimes people come to the Youth Center for help and then when they see me they ask me, but since our house in the back of the Youth Center people never really come into the house to ask for things. Every month we give money to the Youth Center’s giving fund and then when people come that we don’t know we refer them to the guy at the Center who’s in charge of that fund. That helps us a lot because they know way better than we do if someone is trying to scam us and they also know how much help is appropriate.

For some reason in this case I was caught really off guard. I asked her to wait and came upstairs to talk to Jason. As soon as I walked in the door tears welled up in my eyes. I was really feeling the weight of this woman’s problem and I couldn’t figure out why it was so heavy and overwhelming on my heart. Jason talked to me for a bit then I went back downstairs talked to her a little more and then took her to William. As William started talking to her I left because a friend of mine stopped by to talk to me. The cool part of this story is that when William was talking to her he felt like he should share Jesus with her. He did and she accepted right away. He made it really clear that we were going to help her out and that accepting Jesus didn’t have anything to do with her getting money for food from us, but she told him that for a long time she had had questions about her life and no one had ever told her the story of Jesus before. She wanted to become a Christian because when he was explaining it, it all made sense.

Wow. When William came back and told me that I was amazed! Then all my feeling of uncertainty and the weight of this woman’s problem made sense. Satan knows when someone is in the right place at the right time and the last thing that he wanted was for someone to share Jesus with that woman. When I realized that, I was so convicted. I’m the missionary, right? Shouldn’t I always been on the lookout for people that need to hear about Jesus??? I’m so glad that William decided to share with her, but if he hadn’t she would have spoken to two Christians and walked away with her heart still searching for answers! I prayed right then that God wouldn’t let me miss another opportunity.

Don’t you love it when God answers your prayers right away? Well, that’s what happened to me…

Right after that Katie and I went to the market to buy some black lining material for some bags a friend of mine is working on. While I was in the little shop buying the material a Muslim man sitting outside turned and asked me if I was buying it to make myself a burka. Obviously the man could take one look at me with my uncovered head and tell that I am not a Muslim, so he was just trying to provoke me. I thought about what he said for a minute and then I was reminded of my earlier prayer.

So, I took a deep breath, got myself mentally ready for a good amount of Creole, and answered him – no, I wasn’t going to make a burka, I was going to make some purses - and as long as we are on the topic why do Muslims put such a weight on their wives to have no identity and be so hidden away from the world? Well, that sparked a conversation about Islam in general and I was able to explain to him that the way I see it Islam is a very heavy religion for its followers. They live everyday of their lives with the uncertainty of never knowing what’s going to happen to them after they die. When they die they believe that all of the good that they’ve done is added up and weighed against all of the non-good and that decides their future. I told him that I only know of one person in history who could pass that test, Jesus.

We talked about that for a while and he agreed with me that it is a very heavy thing. Then I explained to him that the reason that I’m a Christian is because God knows that no one is good enough to get to heaven on their own, so He sent Jesus Christ to come and die for my sins. When I accepted Jesus as my savior He came into my life and cleaned away all of that sin and He continues to do that everyday as I walk with Him, so the life of a Christian is a life of freedom and relationship.

He said that Jesus was a great prophet and that he believes every word that Jesus said even though he hasn’t read the Bible yet. I told him that he cannot believe every word that Jesus said and be a Muslim because Jesus said that He is the only way, the only truth, and the only life. We talked for about 15 minutes and in the end he told me that if someone brings him a Bible he will read every word of it because he wants to know more about Jesus!

As Katie and I walked away from that conversation we were both amazed. It’s not very often that a Muslim man will listen to the words of a woman, let alone a Christian woman! It was just so obvious that God was at work in the situation. His name is Zakarias (Zachariah in English) and I would appreciate your prayers as I go back and take him a Bible.

All that to say, my eyes are peeled. I’m ready. I’m pumped. And, I can’t wait to see what God is going to say through me to the next person :-)


Sky said...

Well done Em! We continue to pray God's blessings and promptings for you and Jason. Our God is an amazing God, isn't He?!

Sending our love and prayers your way!

Renee said...

Count me in, Emily! Will be praying for you and Zacharias (sp?). Will also be missing you greatly this week!

Ben Kumor said...

Thanks for sharing Emily! Both encouraging and challenging. Keep up the good work - God's work - in Guinea!

Katherine Jacobs said...

Amazing stories!! Missed you guys at SPYC this year!