Friday, December 3

Thesis interview

My mentor asked me to take this quiz, to find out what about my strengths creates energy and excitement and what drains me. One thing that stood out was that I love to hear people's stories. If I could have a one-on-one with you, I'd love to hear your hear the things that made you who you are share in your highs and lows...and to hear your heart for what's next.

I received the privilege to "hear" someone's story today: a lady whose family (husband and two children) were supported, by my church, during 22 year of overseas missionary ministry.

You know that type of family that seems very close, very funny, very close to God...the family that you love to be around and to hear all their stories...the family that you put on a pedestal because you so desire to be like them? This was one of those families for me. Every time they came home from the mission field, our church embraced them and I personally got excited to hear about the things they had experienced and to hear how God had used them. Let me introduce to the Smith's.

I've promised to keep the details anonymous but here's a synopsis of their ministry. For 22 years, the Smith's served in the same country...a country of relative peace, I believe, but surrounded by countries in the midst of turmoil and upheaval. Because of this, this family had numerous times of living with the knowledge that at any time, they might have to evacuate. They were watched, they were threatened, they've had people chanting for their death. Needless to say, this a country where sharing about God and passing out Bibles is illegal. Despite the almost constant threats, they were able to have a productive ministry, becoming highly involved in their neighbors' lives and were able to lead many to a relationship with God.

In 2002, Mr. Smith hit a pedestrian when driving. From what I remember hearing, the man jumped out into the street, not seeing Mr. Smith's car, and Mr. Smith didn't have time to stop. The man ended up in a coma, hanging onto life, for 2.5 months. It was uncertain whether or not he'd make it. The law in that country is that if a pedestrian is hit, the driver is to blame, even if it was an accident. Moreover, if this man died, then Mr. Smith would then be guilty of murder. While this man was in a coma, Mr. Smith was sent to prison and like the victim, his fate was unknown. I remember praying and praying; grief-stricken for Mr. Smith and his family and praying for the pedestrian's recovery. Every day, Mrs. Smith went to visit the pedestrian where she prayed over him continually and tried to minister to his family, all while the family was suing the Smiths for $500,000. After 2.5 months, the man woke up and knew instantly that his life had been saved for a purpose. He gave his life to Christ, dropped all the family's charges against the Smiths and requested that Mr. Smith be released from jail. Amazing, isn't it?

However, during the time in prison, Mr. Smith changed. He had suffered abuse, hunger and sickness while in the jail and he became angry towards God and the nationals. He began to pull away from his family and didn't seek immediate counseling. He jumped back into his work as if nothing had happened. Mid 2002, the family came home to the States for the counseling and time to reconnect but Mr. Smith sadly decided he wanted no part of this. He divorced Mrs. Smith and left her and the children. I was away at college when my mom told me this news. Our pastor had announced their divorce at the end of one service, shocking everyone. I cried over this news and felt utterly heartbroken for them all (and still do). Mr. Smith has since re-married and I do not know any more details of how he's doing spiritually.  Needless to say, this divorce turned Mrs. Smith's life upside down. Her husband was gone, her kids were off to college, her home was half a world away, and her career was over.

In the years since, she had found healing and has learned to lean on God daily. She has found Him faithful the entire time...during her miscarriages, threats, wars, imprisonment, and divorce. While life may not have gone as she had once dreamed or hoped, she is still able to serve the Lord with joy and purpose, trusting that He holds her in His hands.

While I'm doing this thesis paper on suffering and have my own opinions on why God allows it, I must say that it amazes me continually that people can go through the fire and come out still worshipping God. If the end of Mrs. Smith's story was that she was struggling and questioning God, nobody would probably think any less of her. It would be understandable. But to go through that experience and still say that "God is good" or "God is faithful" or "to God be the glory," is nothing short of inspiring.

I still want to be like Mrs. Smith when I grow up! :)

1 comment:

Janelle said...

What an amazing story. Thanks for sharing.