God is at work to bring hope

Sitting on our balcony we hum the tune to ‘Give me a home among the gum trees’ with irony, as we now live in a concrete apartment block with a balcony that overlooks another elegant concrete wall.

But our new addition of fake grass is bringing some Aussie flavour to our surroundings!

Apartment living is by no means the only adjustment we have made after packing up life in Australia and moving to West Asia just over a year ago. Learning a new language has been the hardest assignment, along with living life with no family here to support us, avoiding the angry street dogs and being totally dependent on public transport and our legs.

But we see God is at work in this country. He has provided us with friends who laugh with us as we practice language and say ‘I carry a small table to protect myself from the dogs’, after confusing the word for stick with small table!

We are also part of a 30-plus member Interserve team from all corners of the globe, whose members have decades of experience. In partnership with the LCA, Interserve has sent us here as ordinary Christians to put faith into action, in a part of the world where tens of millions haven’t heard about Jesus.

We have been studying language for over a year now and within a few months we will complete formal lessons and begin a new phase of ministry. We are surrounded by countless opportunities to put faith into action. In this country there are several million refugees who have made perilous border crossings and their situation is constantly on our minds.

The country is trying to support refugees, by providing schooling and health care for many, however, the sheer number and falling economy makes this an impossible task. But God is at work in this city. We have been supporting food distribution at the only Christian refugee centre in our city of millions. Food distribution is a very real need for them, however, often this fails to supply their biggest need – hope. The refugees have no option to go home. No other countries want them. Many have lost everything.

Last month we shared a meal with several refugee families. We heard their stories, listened to their needs, watched our one-year-old son play with their children and saw some hopeful smiles. ‘We love Christians because they are the ones who care for our needs. They are different’, one said.

God is at work among the refugees. As one family left the lunch, with the wife wearing a head scarf, they walked past a small table with Christian resources on it, printed in Arabic. They stopped, looked with interest, then left with several brochures and small books in hand.

Working with refugees in this country brings many complexities. Building relationships requires also learning Arabic, which at the moment seems overwhelming. But without it we would not get a long-term visa and therefore no long-term security, which is daunting given other Christians have been deported and had their visas rejected. It would mean living here without a ‘normal’ job. Having no job potentially creates barriers to developing relationships with locals, who already see us as strange foreigners.

So we continue to seek God about how we can bring hope to the people around us. Please pray with us as we pursue guidance in these next steps. Thank you to all the people who are supporting us, both financially and in prayer.

This story was also published in the August 2017 edition of Border Crossings, the magazine of LCA International Mission.

If you would like to hear more about this family, support them through prayer, finance or encouragement in this ministry, you are invited to contact LCA International Mission at lcaim@lca.org.au or 08 8267 7300.

Names and places have been intentionally omitted.