When I turn to go, she comes running through the house.
Children follow across the yard as she runs. I’m unaware she is coming and go on toward the front gate. She gets closer and calls out, “Pray for me!” She speaks very little English. I don’t understand. She says it again…
“Pray for me!”
This is my second visit to her home. Not a lot has changed in the five years. Trees on the property grew larger, shielding our first glimpse of the house. They built a small, make-shift building beside the road.
They sometimes set up shop there to sell various items to the community. Or, they divide the building up and rent living space to a family in need. (If you’ve been to a third world country, you’ve seen this.)
Everything else is pretty much as I remembered it.
Pig pens in the yard, doors and windows standing open, the faint (or not so faint) smell of open sewer, and at least twenty pairs of flip-flops sitting on or near the front step.
We climb out of the taxi and go inside. Our group heads upstairs where over fifty people are waiting to begin the Sunday morning worship service.
Ushered to the front row, we’re given the best seats in the house…
…several scuffed up Adirondack lawn chairs. We are thankful for the 8 a.m. start time. On the top floor, we might catch a bit of a breeze blowing through the open rafters as the temps and humidity rise with the sun.
Almost half of the congregation on this Easter Sunday morning are children and teens. Most of them live at the orphanage.
She is their mother.
Throughout the service, the children sing song-after-song for us. We’re moved to tears.
These children had no home or family before coming to the orphanage.
Some were found wandering the streets…begging for food, needing a place to sleep. Others fled a Buddhist monastery or nunnery where family sent them to live. Why? Because they knew there the child would at least get a next meal.
That morning, my brother shared a simple Easter message. I sat in my Adirondack chair right up next to the platform. I could see tears in his eyes. He stood on a 4-inch high, makeshift stage on the top floor of the orphanage in SE Asia, looking out on the faces of the people.
When most of us look upon the orphaned, homeless, poor and oppressed, our first inclination is to change things.
We want to better their life. It is only natural, but these situations – these missionary experiences – have taught me to see what my brother saw that morning.
Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10.10b)
Their life is not like ours. Most of them live a life lacking nearly everything we consider necessary. We want to help…
- send money
- build buildings
- provide food
We want to in-act change.
And we do help in many places around the world. Perhaps you do, too. We buy school uniforms, supplement the salary of native pastors, and support feeding programs. It is all important, but what is our most valuable contribution?
Do we hope to change their life, or to encourage life “to the full”?
She asks me ONLY for prayer.
She could ask for a new rice maker, something vital to their daily existence. The rice makers I see in her kitchen look worn and rusted out. She could request new clothes for the children. She could ask for a fresh coat of paint on the outside of the house.
Instead, she races across the yard – knowing I am leaving her country the next day and may not return for years. She hurries to catch me before I go. And all she asks me for is prayer.
When I figure out what she is trying to say in English, I immediately turn, wrap an arm around her waist, and pray these words…
“Father, thank you for my friend. Thank you for her life. Thank you that she makes a difference in the lives of these children every day. Give her strength to serve her household and as a pastor’s wife. Bless her. Give her good health. Meet her needs and those of her family.”
Today…whatever your life looks like, I pray you know the Father of Life.
Things may look bad. Maybe you are living a life of lack. Or, you may have all the material things a person could possibly want, but still do not know true Life.
I want you to know I am praying for YOU as I write this post…
…just as I prayed for my friend that day standing in the sweltering SE Asia sun. I thank God for YOUR life. May you be blessed. May you have good health. May your needs be met. And may you have the Life Jesus came to give each of us – it is a Life “to the full.”
Be encouraged. I believe Life “to the full” is coming your way!