Do you like surprises? Depends on what they are, right? Living and working outside our own culture we often experience surprises. Some delight us and some shock us.
Some of my most pleasant surprises come in the form of people, often strangers, who become living, practical expressions of God’s love. In this Peter’s Wife I want to share some of those with you. I hope that as you read them, you’ll recall some loving surprises of your own, and maybe even share them with the PW community.
About a month ago, I tripped on my way to a delicious Indian lunch. One minute I was walking, the next I was sprawled on the sidewalk. I had a few scrapes and my glasses were badly bent. But it was my hand, my right hand, that hurt and looked strange to me. I could wiggle my fingers, but oh, I knew something was wrong with it. When my husband tried to help me stand I passed out.Suddenly it seemed that we were surrounded by helpful people, people who didn’t know us, but who stopped to give aid. A couple students from the nearby college went to buy an isotonic drink for me. Mike thought it might help revive me since I was still feeling faint.
While they were gone, two women who saw me sprawled on the ground, found parking spaces, and rushed to see how they could help. One sat beside me and kept saying, “If you feel faint again, just put your head on my shoulder, I’ll help you.” Because they were there, Mike could get a chapati for me to eat and ice to put on my hand. These lovely strangers stayed by my side till my husband could bring the car, then helped me into the car.
How amazing! Total strangers, yet they stopped to help. I wish I knew their names, for I would love to thank them. Yet Jesus said, “Whatever you do to the least of these. . .you do it to Me.”
It turns out I broke a little bone in the palm of my hand. Small, but significant when it is your right hand. At the hospital an able doctor casted my hand, immobilizing two fingers and the wrist. What the cast did not cover looked swollen, discolored, almost alien. In other words, there was no way to hide it.
In the week following the break, I was walking past our local coffee shop. Now get the picture. There is an old wrinkled woman who haunts that coffee shop. She is toothless and often looks grimy. Her face has that weathered appearance that only comes from exposure. We often smiled and nodded, but on that day, as she sat on the stoop in a doorway, she said, in perfect English, “What happened to your hand?” I did not even know she spoke English, but was even more surprised by her thoughtfulness to me, a foreigner.
When I Fall I Shall Arise
Six years ago my husband went out shopping one morning. An hour or so later I heard someone banging forcefully on our front door. Bang! Bang! Bang! A little irritated by the sudden and insistent knocking, I answered the door. There was my poor husband. He was scraped up, bleeding, dirty and obviously shaken. A security guard from our compound stood by him.
“What happened,” I shrieked. It seems that a car had sped by, very close to him, as he was walking home. Startled, he stepped back, caught his leg on a low railing and fell head over heels backwards down to a small plateau about 8 feet below the road. If he had not stopped rolling he would have fallen about 40 feet into a major monsoon drain. Scary!
That small-sized security guard saw it happen, ran over and pulled my American-sized husband up to safety. He is a Muslim man. That would surprise some people, but only if they only see Muslims as hate-filled radicals who kill innocent people.
Please, Don’t Send Me to Africa!
Our first posting was Nigeria. What a very different place from American suburbs. I remember feeling very out of place, afraid of many things I didn’t understand, yet wanting desperately to succeed.
You know who really helped me? It was an African woman, Deaconess Daibo, who showed me such love. She was always available to answer questions. But best of all, she gave me my first African hugs. I was surprised by her love!
These were people who reached out to help us at times when we were so vulnerable. They gave of themselves, their time, their strength. They treated a stranger as they would have wanted to be treated. They had no ulterior motive. They showed their love by their actions.
I’m challenged by that. I want to see people as He sees them, not through my assumptions. I want to reach out in love to people as I’ve been loved. I don’t want to miss any opportunities to show His love to those around me.
God bless the precious souls who surround us every day and show us such love!