We were welcomed into their humble abode and were invited to sit on the floor of the room which also served as their sleeping quarters each night. The woman of the house sat in the corner of the room preparing roti, a traditional Pakistan bread, for lunch. I secretly wondered how many times she had done this as I watched her hands moving effortlessly to knead the dough.
And I wondered how many mornings she had faithfully risen early to cook, clean, and wash, fulfilling her daily sacrifices as a mother to her family.
If she could speak English, I’m sure she would have been able to tell me how much she missed her kitchen in their 2-storey house that they had to sell before they fled their country. Or, if she might have shared her sadness that her children would not be able to finish their education.
Instead, she simply smiled and set the plates before us to share their meagre meal with us as if we were very honoured guests. (I have a feeling I’m going to have to learn how to make roti, because my husband obviously loved it.) I also noticed that she was not joining us as we began to eat, but her family explained that she was observing their custom to eat after everyone else was full.
Her humility and cheerful service to her family touched me deeply and made me realize that I have a long way to go to humble myself as I become a “homemaker” for my own family..
She reminds me of my own mother…someone who knows everything about making the most of what one has available…and I instantly feel deep gratitude for so many things I used to take for granted.
I witnessed only two or three such stories of families living as refugees from violence and persecution in their own countries, but I know there are thousands more. In Thailand alone, there are currently more than 6,000 Pakistani refugees. Many are waiting, day by day, looking forward to future interviews scheduled years ahead, hoping to gain refugee status to be placed in 3rd countries.
In the meantime, they have to wait, unable to work or study legally, and simply try to survive… and to hold on to hope.
One woman attending an international ladies’ meeting said: “We are a family of twelve people living in a small room. It is difficult, but we do not complain because God always provides.”
Another says: “I am six months pregnant and pray that God will provide nourishment. I cannot afford additional supplements or vitamins. We eat whatever is available.”
While my mind races to think of something to say to encourage them, I realize that I’m the one being inspired and humbled.
These women do not only carry hope in their hearts. They wear it on their faces, and that makes them truly beautiful.
I admire and desire the beauty of women like Corrie Ten Boom who stood in the middle of a German concentration camp, cold and hungry, and still found words to describe the beautiful sunsets behind the barbed wire fences.
These stories of ordinary heroes have touched my life in ways I will never be able to express. I know that they have changed me so that I will never be able to look at life in the same way again.
I pray that these stories will also touch your heart today and prompt you to live your lives in such a way that you always seek to be a blessing to those around you, to His glory.
It’s a matter of asking, receiving, and giving…of discerning wants versus needs…of realizing that we are all needy before God and must receive from His hand before we can give to others.
David said, “I’ve never seen the righteous forsaken or his seed begging bread.” This is our promise as the children of God. But sometimes we receive and refuse to let go of the abundance to share with others.
Perhaps we need to search our hearts and ask: “If the tables were turned, what would I need?” Sometimes we have the opportunity to be the instrument of God in answering the prayers of others.
We know God will never ask us to give more than He has already given us. But, will we be obedient as cheerful givers?