stories from the field

The Other Side of the Story

Maryah’s son, Faruk* , a three-year-old boy, runs into the room, distraught that his rubber ball has popped. He jumps on his two older brothers, punches them both, while ripping apart the deflated ball with his teeth. The two boys don’t return the violence; they sit patiently while attempting to hold Faruk’s fists. Defeated, Faruk continues to run around in frustration. I’m astonished. Throughout the weeks I’ve been in this country, I’ve seen children use violence to resolve disputes. Violence is their norm. “Your brother is hitting you. Why didn’t you hit him back?” I asked. “We don’t hit. Hitting is bad.” For every story of a violent Faruk, there’s often the untold side of patience and love.

In conversations about going to Mid Asia, people often question me, “Isn’t it dangerous?”, “Why do you have to go? Let someone else go!”, “Aren’t you afraid you’ll be killed?” The relative danger is the side of the story that most of us see, and yet I’ve been given a heart that aches for this nation. Despite the potential violence and fighting, I find myself broken for Faruk and his brothers. God has led me here with a relentless tugging on my heart that I cannot ignore. It is because I am sure of His leading, that He is with me by my side, that I go to these people trusting in His protection and plan for me. With the skills He has given me, I believe I am called to tell the less told side of their story: one that’s filled with pain, and yet displays strength and beauty. These unreached people are loved by God and each have a story to tell. How beautiful would it be to have their stories include Christ one day!

1 Peter 1:8-9 says, “and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls”. I have so much admiration and respect for the long-term workers, who experience the daily corruption here, but remain hopeful for the joy and glory of God to transform these people. It’s this persevering hope that has kept them here by faith, serving and loving people in the face of danger. In turn, this has given the local people hope as well. Tangible ministries like paving roads, raising awareness about mental health, and introducing art therapy and music education have pointed a dark nation towards a God who cares deeply for them and loves them. On the other side of the violence and danger in this country, I also see this hope—it’s in the beauty of the children playing by the well; it’s in sunflowers adorning the land; it’s in God being glorified through the work He is doing amongst this people.

On my last visit to Faruk’s family, I presented them with Play-Doh. The boys cried, “I’ve seen this on TV but I’ve never played with it before!” They were overjoyed with something so simple — something I took for granted as a child. They carefully opened each container and began to make shapes. Maryah joined in. The boys showed off their creations and laughed; Maryah began to smile too. “The Play-Doh is making a difference. This act of relationship building demonstrates our Father’s love, even if it seems small”, my team leader said. The Play-Doh offered a temporary happiness, repainting their family portrait from one living in the midst of violence and strife to a simple picture of children laughing and enjoying their time together as a family.

I dream of a day when I can present these people with another gift—the Gospel of Jesus. Instead of providing temporary happiness, this gift will offer eternal joy. I long for that day!

We rejoice that the Lord continues to raise up more missionaries, such as the writer of this story, who recently joined Pioneers. In fact, through the help of supporters like you, Pioneers Canada was able to see 15 missionaries sent to the field last year! Thank you so much for sharing in this. Together, we can change the story of the unreached.

Gifts to our Strategic Priorities Fund help us recruit, train, and care for missionaries to the unreached around the world. Currently, we are in need of an additional $50,000 by the end of September. If you would like to give to this fund, you can call us at 866-268-8778, donate online at www.pioneers.ca/give, or simply mail the enclosed response form with your gift.

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