stories from the field

Building Roofs Building Relationships

Majestic mountains, deep chasms and crystal clear rivers flirt with our penchant for adventure when we think of the mountains. There is no grocery store around the corner, no gas station in the next block, no Wi-Fi and very few visitors. Most of the year the icy wind freezes everything it touches.

The history of the region is difficult to understand. The people have settled to find refuge from violence. Many of the young people leave as soon as they can, leaving their children with the grandparents while they work in bigger cities to earn a better salary. They hope their children can go to high school. Some dare to imagine their children will have an opportunity to go to college. Like parents around the world, they hope for a better life for their children.

But there is little advantage for the children. The schools are crumbling. The windows broken, the dirt floor filled with rocky holes and the thatched roof drips melting snow. It’s tough for the children to learn.

But these schools are a bridge to building relationships with families in the school. We prayed for a way to be accepted within the community. Coming with a truck, a Bible and North American ways does not build bridges. But coming with concern for the children, free corrugated steel to repair the roof and honest concern for the people goes a long way in building strong relationships.

Most of the roofs are traditional thatch. The heavy snow begins to melt from the warmth of the children’s bodies. As it melts it seeps through the thatch and drips on the desks, the floors, the children. A brand new roof is a gift to the whole community. The people join the repair team with joy, working together to make sure their children can go to school. If the school is closed, the children will have go to a neighbouring village which is no easy feat. Having a good school builds a stronger future.

And as we work together, we build relationships of trust. We are not there to teach the people our ways, but to introduce them to Jesus Christ. Few have ever heard the Gospel message. They have never heard of Jesus. A personal God who loves them is very good news.

Our God Reigns – even in the rugged mountains of Central Asia. Our teams seek God’s guidance to show them how to engage the people and be trusted. We cannot start by preaching or teaching. We start by loving them, right where they are. As we get to know them better, we are able to walk alongside them, looking for innovative and creative ways to make their lives better. And as we walk with them, we share the stories of Jesus. We are able to pray for them. We met a doctor in one of the villages who had a cyst on his brain. He knew the risks of surgery. He had little hope of surviving the operation. We asked him if we could pray for him. Without hope, he gave us permission. Just a few weeks later we visited him in the hospital where he was listening to the audio Bible we gave him.

Our God is a powerful God. Prayer changes things. And when people experience the power of the Holy Spirit in their own lives, they are transformed from the inside.

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