Have you heard the expression “Boots on the Ground?” Well our Live Dead Missionaries are the boots on the Silk Road. Here we’d like to take a moment and allow one of them to share part of their life with you. Some names and details have been changed, but this is a true story from this colorful, vibrant, and sometimes surprising region and those who God has called to work here.
The young college girl at the checkout counter of the corner shop was one of the most conservative young ladies of the majority religion here that I had met. It came across in her dress, in her actions and in her words. She came to know my kids well as they would run to the shop to buy a snack or some groceries for me. I too would stop there for a few items and each time we would strike up a conversation. She told one of my local friends that she had never seen “light on someone’s face” like she saw on mine.
One morning, there was a knock at my gate. It was Shukra, this young student, asking to come into my home. She was a few minutes early to work at the corner shop. She hated her job so much that she couldn’t even handle an extra minute with her boss.
We sat at my table. And I asked her questions. And she answered all of them. Shukra lives with her mom, who is a second wife to her father. He comes only to visit and is treated as a guest upon his arrival. He doesn’t come often. He lives with the other wife. My friend and her mom live in the home of her uncle who is married with children. She is responsible for cleaning and cooking, as well as working outside the home to bring in extra income, all while attending university. She doesn’t think her mother loves her as she is never satisfied with anything Shukra does in the home. Her aunt and uncle only bark commands and never say thank you. Her boss is terrible and he too tells her that she is not enough, that she can’t ever seem to do her job right.
We both were watching the time as we didn’t want her to be late to the corner store, but the conversation had gone so deep, so quickly that it was hard to see it come to an end.
And just that fast I heard it. I heard Him ask me to pray for her.
I was at a point in my language that I knew I could pray a beautiful prayer. I asked my friend if I could pray for her. As I began the prayer, my youngest woke up from her nap and there was a loud knocking at my gate. All at once. I couldn’t even focus and I couldn’t make that prayer beautiful after all. As a matter of fact, as soon as I said, “Amen,” I wondered what I had even prayed. If there was ever a time that Jesus could use something very small and simple, the time was now.
Shukra said, “Amen” too…and was crying. She hugged me, ready to take on the challenge of her job.
I still don’t know what I prayed that day, but just a week later I went to the corner store and she was gone. She had quit her job. She lived quite a distance away and I was sad that she wouldn’t be passing by my gate anymore on the way to work. After a few weeks, someone knocked on my gate. It was a stranger who claimed to be Shukra’s cousin.
“She asked me to come and get your phone number. Can she call you?” she asked. “Yes. Tell her that I will be waiting for her call,” I said. She did call. And she came. And we prayed. Then she prayed, on a towel that we laid out on my living room floor, facing Mecca. We said goodbye.
My family left for America for one year. When we came back, I dreamed about her. The very next day a local friend called and said, “I saw Shukra on the bus, she is coming to visit. She wants to talk to you.”
So now I wait; a bit nervous that I won’t have the right words or scripture or prayer for her. I never feel like I am ready, but I am grateful that He is.