Full hearts

It’s amazing how a small act that seems insignificant in our eyes can spark something huge in God’s Kingdom.

We’ve had a small box of bilingual scripture cards in our home since we’ve been married. They’re in English and Japanese. They sat on the kitchen counter in our first home but after a number of house moves they lay forgotten in a box. After our recent move they resurfaced again and I took them out to give to my best friend, Anh, who I’ve known for the past six years. I met her the day she decided to follow Jesus and I still remember telling her that it’s the best decision she would ever make! Since then we’ve become close friends and we’ve been journeying together through the ebbs and flows of life. Since first meeting her, she’s given birth to her own startup education centre where she holds English and Japanese classes for the local community in our South East Asian city.

Thursday mornings are my favourite weekday mornings. Anh and I meet at 7am and walk to the lakes, grab a bowl of sticky rice and a glass of ice-cold tea, chatting about what God has been showing us and usually discussing a book we choose to read together. This past Thursday, I remembered to take the scripture cards to give to her. She thanked me and I jokingly challenged her to put one verse each week on the notice board of her education centre and call it “Wisdom of the Week”. She could even suggest to her colleagues that they should memorize it and try to do what it says during the week. We didn’t talk too much about it as we continued to our usual breakfast spot for our weekly catch up

About 3 hours later a string of messages flooded my phone. It was Anh. “Thanks for the cards. You know what? Today during the Q&A part of our Japanese class they asked me, ‘When you don’t have money, where do you go to borrow some?’ I took a chance and told them that, as a Christian, I would ask God to guide me. They seemed interested in my faith and after sharing some of the cards I ended up talking for two hours, starting with the Garden of Eden!”

Anh went on to share how the people in her class asked to know more about Jesus and two of them now want to follow him! My heart wanted to erupt with joy! Heaven is rejoicing! Later that day she wrote an email to our international church pastor to share her story. My eyes welled up with tears as I read it. I felt so thankful and humbled to be reading her story – His story!

It is amazing how one small act can lead to something so huge! Never underestimate the power of one small act! Step out, share what you have and watch what God can do with the little you have to offer.

Andrea and her family live and work in South East Asia.
All names have been changed.

Archaeology is my love language

When we think about how God’s love motivates us to love others, it can sometimes be hard to imagine how we can do this. How do we love our neighbours? Even harder: how can we love people scattered across the world? For me, doing my job as an archaeologist is a way to love Central Asians – by helping them understand the story of Christianity in their own countries.

Why does history matter?

The Bible is a history of the people of God. God is always reminding Israel of where they came from and where they are going. It reminds them of who they are:

Then the people answered, “Far be it from us to forsake the Lord to serve other gods! It was the Lord our God himself who brought us and our parents up out of Egypt, from that land of slavery, and performed those great signs before our eyes. He protected us on our entire journey and among all the nations through which we travelled. And the Lord drove out before us all the nations, including the Amorites, who lived in the land. We too will serve the Lord, because he is our God.” (Joshua 24:16-18)

The history of God’s love and salvation for Israel is what makes them want to serve him. And for Christians, the story of how God loved and saved us through Jesus is what gives us our new identity in Him! This history of faith is central to our knowledge of who are.

History is our story too

History is often only seen as the stories of important people or events. But archaeology and history also have the potential to uncover the stories of the everyday lives of ordinary people. We already know the power of personal stories: we share the testimonies of God at work in our lives and the stories of others who have gone before us. For the Christians of Central Asia, archaeological research on the church in this region helps them appreciate the history they can own for themselves. Making a decision to follow Christ is usually seen as a betrayal of family and heritage. Yet archaeology has the power to show that Christians have been there for hundreds of years and Christianity has a legitimate place in contemporary society as it has had in the past. Being a Christian does not conflict with being Central Asian.

Archaeology sounds romantic and full of adventure. In reality, it is hard outdoor work, long research hours, and getting very sunburnt! If that stills sounds fun to you, a career change could be in order! Each day I begin excavating around 5am. We set up to shelter ourselves from the sun and throughout the day we shift our shelters to make sure we keep enough shade to protect us. I spend most of the day hunched over a grave site, carefully and slowly excavating the soil. I work in dust, dirt and mud, and the sun blares over us as the day goes on. The afternoon is spent processing artefacts and getting enough rest before the next day.

We go through this hard work because we know it is worth it, not just because we love it. We love others because God loved us. We want to unearth stories of the God of love at work in people who have gone before. We want to demonstrate the continuity of a community of faithful Christians in this region reaching back into history. This can also show people of other religions that they are loved by God. Archaeology is one way to love others so, well, hand me my trowel!

Victoria served her short-term placement at an archaeological dig in Central Asia.
Names have been changed.

A taxi driver with a searching heart

I looked up and down the inner city street, suddenly quiet from the usual rush of traffic. I needed a taxi in a hurry and, in this city of over 60,000 taxi drivers, not one could be found. I began walking quickly to a larger thoroughfare, quietly asking for the provision of a quick, safe ride home. I had classes to teach at my university in a couple of hours. I spied a taxi some distance ahead, stopping to set a passenger down, so I sprinted and got there just in time. Falling into the back seat in relief, I gave hasty directions to the driver.

With my eyes closed, I thought back over the morning’s errand—a kind of ‘mercy mission’ to take some necessities to an elderly patient in hospital. To fit this in before classes began I had decided on the luxury of taking taxis there and back. On the way in, I had shared the gospel with the taxi driver and left him with a little booklet to read. When I first arrived in this city, I had heard about the plight of taxi drivers and their relentless schedules which gave little opportunity to hear the good news. I’d decided then that if I ever paid to take a taxi, I would share the love of God with the driver. But today, I’d already done that, and I was tired and needed to be rested for my classes.

There was a niggling thought in my head, though. What if this driver never hears of Jesus? This taxi had been a timely provision for me. What if God had appointed this driver to hear the good news today, and I didn’t tell him? What is stopping me, really? I kept wrestling with my need for a rest and rationalising my excuses. Finally, I opened my mouth.

The taxi driver was friendly, and listened intently as I shared with him the core of the good news—the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, and the forgiveness and eternal life he offers. “Have you ever heard this before?” I asked. “No, I haven’t,” he replied. “Well, not completely. The passenger just before you was a Christian too, and she started to tell me but her journey came to an end too quickly. So I didn’t hear it all.”

I was stunned. This day, the Lord had appointed two of His children, in a city of 22 million people, to talk to this taxi driver. And he had prodded me until I’d opened my mouth. The driver continued, “And I want to know where I can find a Bible. I’ve been trying to find one for a while but I have no idea where to look.” I couldn’t believe my ears at hearing this earnest desire. There are a lot of bookshops in my city, but a Bible is hard to find.

His enthusiasm grew as we talked. As we drew up to my high-rise apartment block, I took a risk. “My apartment is up there,” I said, pointing to the second-highest floor. “I have a spare Bible up there, in your language. Would you wait for me to get it for you?” “Really? Yes, of course! I’ll wait here as long as it takes!” he replied. At my apartment I made a beeline for a hidden drawer under the spare bed and drew out the precious book. I added a Jesus DVD, also in his language, to the gift. The driver delightedly accepted the materials I offered with a sincere “thank you” and a promise that he would value and peruse them all.

I never saw him again. I don’t know if I’ll see him in heaven, though I hope I will. But I know that on that day, the love of God compelled me, along with another of his children, to share the grace of the Lord Jesus with one taxi driver who had a searching heart.

“For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all.” 2 Corinthians 5:14

Julia has lived and worked in Asia for over twenty years.
Names have been changed.

Keeping watch

“The eyes of the Lord are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good.” Proverbs 15:3

This verse recently caught my attention. I had always thought of God keeping an eye on good but absent when evil is present. I remember being taught that God can’t look on evil. Now I am not so sure. This verse points out that God is in every place and he is not inattentive to evil. It describes him as “keeping watch on the evil” as well as the good. In the phrase, “keeping watch”, I think of a military officer whose job it is to be alert and give constant, disciplined attention to a situation. I like the idea that God is alert, not disinterested or neutral. He is taking a good long look at evil.

We are hearing about a lot of negative things at the moment. The COVID-19 pandemic, the plight of refugees, economic crises, land border tensions, floods, earthquakes, locust plagues, racism, sparring world leaders and people careless with the resources of God’s world. God is alert and watching all these things.

A Christian friend recently told me that, “God has given Satan control over our world.” That statement has some truth but it made me cringe a little, for it leaves me with the hopelessness of deism – that God has walked away to let the world run itself under Satan’s control. This made me rethink how I would describe the current situation. Satan is indeed busily bringing harm. But God is not absent, and evil will not stay active forever. God is unchanged by evil but not unmoved.

God sees all of this – separated and distressed families, unexpected funerals, loss of salary, sickness and death – and because he sees it, he sent Jesus. God is keeping watch over the evil and the good. It is a privilege to show through our words and deeds that he so loved the world that he sent Jesus.

Amelia has served in South Asia for more than 15 years.
Names have been changed.

The Great Physician

2020 has been a very challenging time for the world. All of us have found ourselves in a different situation than we anticipated at the start of the year. Personally, it has brought a sudden halt to my work. Worldwide border restrictions have left me unexpectedly outside of my country of service. But along with the frustration, it has given me a chance to reflect on the past two years since I went overseas to work.

I had been living in an Asian city on a high plateau. After a period of language study, I started work as a doctor in the obstetrics and ultrasound departments of a local hospital. It was a really challenging start but I began to learn that to be accepted in a local context requires patience, humility and a healthy respect for the people and systems that surround you. As my relationships improved, so did the opportunities. Despite my basic language skills, I was invited to begin formal clinical teaching.

God had given me a vision to bring learning opportunities and up-to-date skills to people who lack access to them so that they, in turn, can better serve their own people. It is also my desire that healthcare workers may come to know Jesus, the Great Physician, and serve patients with the compassion that reflects His love for the world. As the initial months passed by, I found myself busy doing all the much-needed “good” things. Most of my days were occupied by acquiring general and medical language, preparing lessons and getting to know my colleagues and the culture of the hospitals. I was also learning about day-to-day clinical work in that context. As time passed by, I found little time to do anything else. While the response to my teaching was good, I had neither the time nor language ability to talk about the deeper issues of faith.

As I got more involved in the day-to-day working environment, a different set of challenges become apparent. Why is a stillborn baby treated with less care than a live birth? Why is life-saving treatment delayed while waiting for the family to make necessary phone calls to find the money to pay for it? Why is terminating a pregnancy the only option offered when certain maternal or fetal risks become known? Why is general decision-making done so differently to what I know as best-practice? Should we not treat a person, dead or alive, with or without money, with dignity? Should we not as healthcare workers give patients balanced advice regarding their choices? The underlying issues behind these questions are complex and I began to see that the foundations have something to do with how we view the value of a person. I believe that each person—each patient—is created in the image of God, valuable and priceless, and this affects how I treat them. But how can I show this to my colleagues?

One day, a lady doctor whom I had been working with asked me if I was someone with faith. I was surprised with this unexpected question as I had not yet had any direct conversations about matters of faith. I asked her the reason for her question. She had noticed an incident where a patient’s decision had upset me. From my reaction, she concluded that I must be someone with faith. We discussed the issues surrounding it, particularly the value of every life. That day I realised that I can begin by helping one person change one aspect of their worldview at a time, even though I’d like to change everything at once! This was exciting. It is possible, with the help of the Great Physician, to point others to Him through our daily choices and conduct.

We need evidence-based medical practices to improve patient outcomes. But just as importantly, we also need to model through our daily work the compassion and love that the Great Physician has for each life. Go, love the world, just as Jesus does.

Hannah is an obstetrician living and working in Asia.
Names have been changed.

Gods love overcomes fear

We live in a 4,000 year old city, along with 25 million others. Pollution fills the air like a grey soup and the economy is in a permanent struggle to keep ahead of population growth. Yet the noise and chaos brings a captivating vibrancy to the place we call home. Hanging over this society are deep divisions between rich and poor, women and men, and between Christians and Muslims resulting in brokenness, mistrust and violence. As a minority, Christians often focus on self-preservation and separate themselves from the majority Muslims.

Eight years ago, corruption, injustice, poverty and lost opportunity drove the Middle East into revolution. In the midst of this, my family was seeking God and felt called to business for transformation. We were convinced that business has the potential to impact the financial, social and spiritual aspects of people’s lives. We soon found ourselves wearing aprons, serving coffees and baking cakes for our new, tiny coffee business!

Since then, it’s been a journey of hard work, stress, miracles and joy! Our business brings together people from marginalised backgrounds and provides a safe space for training and discipleship. We are now a community where we work, learn, laugh, eat and pray together. Sounds nice? Maybe, but the journey doesn’t always feel nice. In fact, it’s REALLY HARD.

One of our team, Ash, joined us from a slum area with dreams of being an accountant. I recall his extreme discomfort when I took him for his first visit to a bank! He was brought up in an environment where violence was normal. His father beat his mother and his brother followed in his footsteps. Ash would have made a perfect drug lord. He was angry most of the time and was always ready for a fight. There would have been many fist fights with other team members if I hadn’t physically held him back.

We strive to model and operate by Godly principles including love, grace and forgiveness. This was difficult for Ash’s colleagues whom he often offended and frightened. Yet today, Ash is part of the management team of two men and two women, after insisting for a long while that business is only for men. He is now dependable and supportive of all of his colleagues. His faith has grown and it’s become normal for him to discuss matters of faith with both Christians and Muslims.

Mary is another team member from a slum area who battled with her family to get a basic education and find work against her parents’ wishes that she only prepare for marriage and children. Mary is an evangelical Christian which is unusual here and we were excited by the potential of her working with us. However, Mary’s behaviour towards her colleagues was far from salt and light. Her deep insecurities and fears poured out on her colleagues in the form of verbal abuse, bitterness and unforgiveness while showing a completely different side in our Bible studies. I was frustrated!

We came to a moment of confrontation when I was prepared to fire her. However, that same morning my wonderful wife and business partner told me that God had been speaking to her about how we should be growing in love for our team. Ouch! Love is an interesting concept. 1 John 3:16 talks about giving up our lives for our brothers and sisters. Who is our brother and sister? What does giving up our lives mean? 1 John 4:18 also tells us that there is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.

I suddenly realised that fear was in the way of God’s love. I was challenged to allow God’s love to remove my own fear. Only then could I really show love to Mary. Only then can I help Mary start to overcome her fears and the destructive force they were having on colleagues. It starts with me!

Striving to constantly grow in God and demonstrating His love is hard work. But we have seen enormous joy and fulfilment in seeing God’s transforming love impact lives through our business.

Jacob and his family live in the Middle East, working in business for transformation.
All names have been changed.

We are Kingdom Gardeners

For 168 years, Interserve’s approach to ministry has been to focus on the whole person. People are at the centre of our work. But people live in a physical, social and spiritual context which shapes their whole approach to life. As people striving to see God’s will done on earth as it is in heaven, we want to be Kingdom Gardeners, nurturing the Kingdom of God in all its glory. We can’t ignore the natural environment where people live—and where we also live—as we love and serve them.

Caring for God’s creation, with its people, has always been part of the story of redemption— both physically (“The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it” Gen 2:15) and metaphysically (“The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field” Matt 13:24). As we go into the world, caring for people requires us to engage with the whole context in which they live. We become able to say, as Paul did to the Thessalonians, that “Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well” (1 Th 2:8). Sharing our lives gives us the opportunity to make known the glory of God in all His handiwork.

“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands” (Ps 19:1). The knowledge of God is demonstrated to everyone through His creation. But how much of God’s incredible handiwork is obscured by the careless or wilful destruction of nature? And how often is this tied to unjust exploitation of people? For many, experiencing creation in all its intended glory is unattainable. As crosscultural workers, we can be a prophetic voice in a natural and spiritual wilderness, showing God’s intention for His creation and His people. As we demonstrate our love for God by caring for everything He created, we invite people to better understand their Creator and His desire to see all creation restored to its intended glory. “Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let your glory be over all the earth” (Ps 57:5).

Interservers show how God loves the world— His people and His creation—in many different ways. A naturopath works with the local community to develop healthy and sustainable food sources in an arid environment. A family lives with a displaced people group, helping them farm in productive ways that value all life. Another couple runs an eco-tourism business in an area occupied by several oppressed minorities, bringing people together through enjoyment of God’s creation. An engineer’s day job is working towards providing sustainable, alternative energy. After hours, he partners with the local church to meet needs in the refugee community. A researcher is studying the practical and spiritual relationship between animals and humans, working with local people to demonstrate and share God’s love for the world. Kingdom Gardeners plant, water and tend the garden, and God brings the growth. “May the whole earth be filled with His glory” (Ps 72:19).

Peter has worked with Interserve in Australia and the Middle East for over 20 years.

A ministry of encouragement

When I first arrived in Central Asia 15 years ago, I vividly remember the Principal of the Theological College telling me, “You’ll be a great encouragement to the women pastors!”

“Most unlikely!” I thought to myself.

I knew no one. I couldn’t speak a word of the language and had very little understanding of the culture. I had years of experience of teaching and pastoral ministry, but in a very different context. In this culture, I was a complete novice.

Now that I have learned the language and gained a greater understanding of the culture, I’ve been privileged to work with and encourage many people; both women and men. The theological college is now locally run and though no expats officially work there, I’m still involved in various ways.

I’ve worked with local teachers with varying success and am always delighted when I hear from students how much they enjoyed and learned from the teaching of friends like Venera, Kostya and Gulya.

A very able young woman, Venera worked with me teaching some Old Testament books. At first, she taught only sections of each lecture and developed into teaching the subjects on her own. She married a young man from a neighbouring country and now only comes back once a year to see her parents and to teach. However, God continues to use her knowledge and skills in preaching and teaching as she serves in a large church in her new home city.

Kostya is a fine young man, who came to know Jesus through a student movement here and worked with this group for ten years. When he had leave to pursue theological studies, I was able to advise him about places to study online and guide him to books and links along the way. He is now engaged in work towards a PhD and I’m happy to be a discussion partner and resource.

Gulya, a pastor in a village nearby, is a friend and colleague with whom I’ve taught. For the past ten years she has been leading the only church in her village. It is known and respected by all. Gulya has been involved with me and others in the Langham Preaching Movement. Her continued involvement in a preaching club is helping her and the church to grow in depth of understanding and love. She says, “I used to pray and pray for inspiration about what to preach. But now I find it so much easier. We go through a book of the Bible and work carefully on the text … and find inspiration. God really speaks through his Word — to me as well as to others.”

Ordering books to expand our library has been just as important. Can you imagine trying to do theological study without books? “How do you know which books to order?” someone asked me recently. Experience over many years has taught me which of the books that have been translated would be useful for students and teachers here. Translating suitable books into the local language – or rather, working with translators to check the translations – has become part of my work, as has seeing them through to publication. Suggesting books to be translated by a publisher in other parts of the former Soviet Union has also borne fruit.

So, fifteen years on, I’m pleased to see how God has used the skills and experience He has given me to be an encouragement to people in a very different culture. God has also provided local friends and colleagues to love, teach and encourage me as I serve with them here. I’m very grateful for the privilege.

Gwen is a long-term Interserve Partner who has been working alongside the church in Central Asia for 15 years.
All names have been changed.

A different way of doing medicine

I was only fourteen when I decided I was going to become a medical missionary. I assumed I would be going to Africa – back then I thought all missionaries went to Africa.

But I was surprised to learn that female medical personnel were most needed in Muslim countries, where women must see a female professional and sometimes died when there were no women doctors to attend them.

So I ended up doing a medical student placement in South Asia. It was in a compound with high fences and armed guards. Women were not allowed outside the compound alone, and we had to cover every part of our body including our head. I remember old rusty beds, surgical gloves hanging out to dry after use, hot sweet tea and lots of kids with thin mums.

I started to think about wholistic health and doing medicine in a different way after I witnessed a nurse stomping a baby’s bottle under her foot. Her strange action made sense after I learned that bottle-feeding contributed to the illness of babies there. Big multinational companies sold their milk formulas cheaply and promoted bottlefeeding as the way of the West. However, many poor village women watered down the formula to make it last longer, depriving their babies of the nutrition necessary for growth. The lack of clean water and difficulty to sterilise bottles frequently led to infection and diarrhoea, then dehydration and death.

My brief time there taught me so much. I learnt the importance of preventative and community medicine. I learnt that even though curative hospital care was exhilarating and necessary, for me prevention is better than cure. I began to understand that people’s health is more than physical, and that it is bound to their poverty, education level, status, economic means, gender and religious beliefs. In short, I had begun to understand about wholism.

Another turning point in my Christian journey came when I had the opportunity to go on an evangelistic ward round. The hospital evangelist shared the gospel with patients’ relatives, who stayed to care for the patient. I thought it was great that the gospel was shared, but I was uncomfortable with the division for me: because of time constraints doctors mostly dealt with the physical and evangelists dealt with the spiritual. I didn’t want to restrict myself to being a doctor; I wanted to be a doctor sharing Christ and to teach from the Word of God. This was a good fit for the way God made me.

So I began full-time theological study while working part-time as a GP and completing my training. I was able to reflect on the interaction of the physical, emotional and spiritual. We are complex beings and being healthy is a complicated business.

When I applied to join Interserve, I was willing to go where I was most needed. That turned out to be Central Asia, where the church had grown exponentially since the fall of the Soviet Union, but leaders were young in years and young in faith. I quickly caught the vision of impacting communities in a wholistic and grassroots way, where they could be empowered to recognise and solve their problems with local resources. Our community development lessons covered many topics, such as physical health, income generation, agriculture, emotional issues and moral values like honesty and forgiveness.

Most of the communities we worked with knew we were followers of Jesus, and in time, through interaction, they developed a more positive understanding of Christianity. We did this work not as a means to evangelise or plant churches, but because it is good in itself and demonstrates the love of Jesus. In many places around the world, however, the natural consequence of such wholistic community development is that, over time, new communities of faith begin.

These early lessons have shaped my work as an Interserve Partner for the last 22 years. When there is harmony between people and God (the spiritual dimension), among people (the social dimension), within the person (the emotional dimension) and between people and their environment (the physical dimension), we have wholistic health. As Christians we work to show that Jesus is Lord of all and has reconciled all things in heaven and earth to Himself (Colossians 1:15-20). That’s wholism.

Lyn is Interserve’s Regional Director for East Asia and South Pacific. She lives in Australia with her family.

Listening with respect

I see myself more as a Jack-of-all-trades than a specialist. I spent more of my working life raising children than in my profession of medicine, returning to family practice and then counselling as they grew up.

In my new country, I work in ‘support’. I do not run any projects myself. ‘Support’ for me may mean collating clinical data, making cushions, dolls and straps for disability work, applying for grant funding, updating health training materials, training locals in counselling and offering child development and parenting support. There is no ‘ordinary week’ for me. Some work is fun, some engaging and exciting, some frankly boring but necessary.

There are highs and lows. Here is one low from the start of my work: I was finally going to do something useful and I was excited! After a year of cultural and language learning, I was going to assist a local NGO with health promotion and a women’s shelter. I had carefully prepared my first training presentation and I arrived twenty minutes early, ready to set up and start on time. The room was in use, so I waited. With five minutes to go, I showed my face at the window. When it was time to start, I knocked on the door. A colleague came out. She said that the person before me was still talking. I waited for forty-five minutes. The team then came out and asked me to give my presentation another day, as now they did not have time for my training!

We now live in a relationship-based culture, not a time and task-based culture. I knew ‘flexibility’ was important for living and working here. I just didn’t know how flexible. Your duty is the person in front of you and other commitments go on hold until they leave. I have learned to call the day before I run training, and to schedule sessions at the start of the day so it starts approximately on time. That is, after the mandatory relationship-building cup of tea and chat.

I have continued to work with the same wonderful ladies for the last five years. They sat patiently while I attempted to teach in a new language. It was a relief to all of us when they offered to allow me to train in English, with one of them translating. They always encourage me and tell me how much they value me, which makes it hard to get good feedback for improvement! I think it took three years before my health training took root. I think it also took about that amount of time before they really trusted me.

Here are some of the highs:

I was asked to work as a counsellor in a medical clinic. It is always challenging seeing people in very difficult circumstances when you are unlikely to see them again. What could I really do? I was very humbled when lady after lady shared their experiences of difficulties with husband or children. They entered sad and left smiling. What had I done? There was really no advice I could give them, no change in their circumstances. It was simply important to them that both I and my Christian translator listened and valued them. I encouraged them. So many of these ladies only get abuse and blame. To be listened to with respect and cared for was a new experience for them.

The ladies running the women’s shelter asked for training to help the children who had escaped abusive situations with their mothers. I explained that although the children will probably later need counselling, the first and most important thing is to provide them with a safe and nurturing environment, provide good food and clothing and to cater for their educational needs. I also gave them training on basic child development and parenting skills. They were very grateful and said they found this training helpful even in their own families. They also realised that their work was just as important as what professionals did.

Nothing happens by chance. God uses all our experiences, and I am grateful for everything he is doing through my retirement!

Marian and her husband are doctors, serving long-term in a remote part of Central Asia.

Names have been changed