Saturday, April 10, 2010

Opportunities with friends

My friend Magreth lives in a small community with most of her extended family.  I meet a few more family members every time I hang out with her. Most of them live right within a few feet of each other, but others live a few minute's walk away.  Her parents own the land that she and the rest of her family live on and are among those who live within a few feet of her house so I see them regularly.  Her mom, Rupi is often sick.  She has more recently been having issues with her spine, experiencing pain and loss of movement to the point that she is unable to even sit up, much less walk around in the morning.  She sleeps (and has always slept) on a mat on a cement floor so it isn't hard to imagine always being sore from a lifetime of this, but this is the plight of most ni-Vanuatu.  Anyway, her pain is great and I asked Magreth what she does to treat it.  Magreth explained that she won't go to the hospital for medical issues, but rather uses what she called custom leaf medicine in combination with having people from various churches come pray for her.  I told her I wanted to pray with her before I left, but was leery of creating any misunderstanding that I was offering a treatment to be trusted in rather than what I really wanted to do, which was to show her love and point her to the One who created bodies and who, if He so chooses, can bring healing.  Because of this fear of being misunderstood, I shared both with Magreth and Rupi that the Bible talks about suffering and sickness being in the world due to the world being tainted by sin, which was first introduced by Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.  I shared that sometimes God allows these things to bring him glory, to show God's work in our lives, and to draw us to Him, as with Job, the man born blind (John 9:3), and Paul (2 Corinthians 12:7).  Also, living in an imperfect world gives plenty of opportunities for us to look forward to our true home in heaven (Hebrews 11:13), where we will forever enjoy fellowship with God and where there will be no more pain (Revelation 21:4).  However, Christians are also to carry each others' burdens and to pray for the sick, so I prayed with Rupi that God would heal her if it is His will and that He might take away her pain (Psalm 103:3, Galatians 6:2, James 5:15).  I sat next to her and hugged her while we prayed and she shook and cried and sat and hugged me a long time after.  She kept saying "God is good, God is good, thank you so much, thank you so much."  Please pray for this dear woman for her salvation and for her physical healing as well.  (Rupi is the one on the left pictured here.)

Also on my visit, Magreth's sister-in-law, Lloyd, who I believe to be a solid Christian woman, shared with me that she is struggling and would like prayer.  She shared that when she and her husband first married, they were very involved in their church, helping with youth, fellowshipping with other Christians, and growing in their faith.  She said that she's facing a hard time now because since they moved about 2 years ago to live up with the rest of his family (just a few feet from Magreth's house), the family has been a bad influence on him.  The situation has degraded to the point that he is unwilling to go to church, to allow her to go to church, he only hangs out with friends and family who are involved in activities and behaviors she sees as negative, and he has stopped getting together with Christian friends.  She said "you come up here a lot, but you don't know everything that is going on so I wanted you to know so you can pray for me to be a good witness here and pray that God would turn my husband back around."  She said he didn't want her to tell anyone and would be angry with her for talking with me, but she said she needed to tell someone what was going on.  Please pray for this family and especially for Lloyd for wisdom in her actions and words as she desires to see her family living for Christ.

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