20 December 2014
My heart raced as we drove up the dirt road toward Otona, the place where God was beginning to capture my heart. The place where the old SIM Hospital still stands pink. The side of the mountain where people walk barefoot with their babies strapped to their backs…women are bent low, smiling, trying to sell their mound of avacodos…there are dirty faces, half-naked children, run down houses…and there are places where God is reaching down and causing these faces to look up and see that He has not forgotten them.
We drove on winding dirt roads, the mob of children chasing our car grew as we approached a group of homes. We parked and began to walk back through grass, trees, mud homes with thin tin roofs and women gathered along the edges of the pathways waiting to see why this white family was tromping through their neighborhood. A door on one home was painted bright blue, and the words, “JESUS IS LORD” were written across the doorway. He was reminding me. I took a deep breath, unsure of what lie ahead. God had shown us this woman, Ayalich and her 3 children, and He asked us to care for her. What would He ask us to do? How would she receive us?
Paralyzed on her left side, due to pre-eclampsia 5 years ago…she wobbled out of a dark hut, her cane stabilized her. She smiled bright. A gentle spirit beamed from under rags and a scarf, and years of pain. Our friends had told us about her. “She used to be normal,” they said, “Now she has nothing…her children are eating out of the garbage thrown behind the government hospital.” I felt ill. How can this happen just five minutes from my home. My home where my pantry is full and all 8 bellies always, always have enough. Her children are small, malnourished and half naked. Their father died a year ago. Hopeless.
“I am nothing.
Why did God look on me like this? Am I the one who receives this?
There is nothing I can give you in return, except I will pray that God will bless you and strengthen you. I will pray he will care for all of your children,” Ayalich choked out these words.
She touched our heads and spoke a blessing over us in Wolaittina…it was words unknown to me, but heard by the Father…I felt like that was the deepest gift I had received this Christmas.
Our friends found her a small one bedroom home, we put a mattress and blanket inside and piled food around it. It seemed like nothing compared to what God was giving to us. She cried and smiled and blessed us. We cried quietly and told her it was all from God. She knew.
What did this feel like to this woman? She only praised God. She saw that it was from Him…that He had not left her. Though her life was a bit like Job…losing her home, her health and her husband, now being unable to work and provide for her family…she prayed and relied on a God who would one day reach down and protect her, be her refuge, speak to another family about their responsibility to care for someone else, and provide for her needs. Her eyes were filled with tears as she blessed the Father…she held her hand up, as she shook and sweat dripped down the back of her neck…she glowed with the love of a Redeemer. She was a woman wrapped in true humility—recognizing she was nothing….not in pity but in a beautiful place of worship and understanding that HE IS GOD. He came to her, loved her and gave her HOPE. She gave Him PRAISE and GRATITUDE.
I felt full and numb as we climbed back into our car and drove away…to our ‘other’ world of enough. But the fullness of whatever gifts God gives, just must be poured out and flow over from our lives, from our abundance…whatever that is. Whatever God gives, must be laid down…whatever He provides, must be shared…whatever He fills up, will always be re-filled…
”Julie, keep pouring out…” “Keep loving…” “Do you see me better now?
Do you understand a bit more of my heart for my children?
Do you know and trust and believe that I AM always enough?
Will you listen for your part in this world that is full of brokenness, poverty, injustice and pain?”
He wants this truth to become more of a reality…”on earth as it is in heaven…” He wants us to SEE Him here on this earth and respond in love and obedience…And as this precious woman who has so touched my life, Ayalich, even her name means ‘caused to see’. God caused her to see, gave her Hope and a new life. God caused all of His perfect love to fall on her to show her and assure her that she was not forgotten. God caused me to SEE Ayalich, a woman not unlike myself…a woman made in the image of God, but so broken from sin. He caused me to see that we are all nothing, but it is His grace alone that looks down from heaven and remembers us. The magnitude of all the grace and love overwhelmed my heart and mind. This woman, though I’m sure will never know caused me to see Jesus again, afresh. He used her to open up this heart once again to be broken for the things of God, to be willing to be poured out and to count it all joy to SEE AGAIN. In this broken beautiful woman, in this little mud house, in this little village in Soddo, I saw Jesus.
And Jesus said,
“Whenever you saw me naked and clothed me…
Whatever you do to the least of these, you do to Me…”