A family in need

 

After buying several bags of essential groceries for a needy Muslim family we had met a few months ago, we began the drive to the village. As we drove past the house, Bishara slowed down and greeted a few men standing around outside.

“Do you remember me?” he asked them. It seemed to take a second, but they eventually remembered us, and they invited us to come inside again and visit with them.

This family is suffering from a kind of poverty most people cannot even imagine: complete social, financial, educational, and spiritual bankruptcy.

The husband and wife may have married when they were 15 and 13 years old. Since then, they have had many children, possibly as many as twelve.

The husband does not work, and we fear that he may be a drug user. Several of the boys, though old enough to work, follow in their father’s footsteps, preferring to do nothing with their time. We can sense many unspoken and ongoing feuds within even the immediate family.

Almost everyone in this family drops out of school early. Two of the younger girls suffer from mental challenges and are currently going to a special school in the city. No one in the family can read Arabic, though the husband says he can read Hebrew.

Their house is literally falling apart. They live on a third floor, which you can only get to by a set of crumbling steps. The door to the bathroom is just propped up against the wall. They may have painted the inside walls years ago, but both the paint and the actual concrete of the walls are flaking away. There is no table, no couches or chairs to speak of. Nothing decorative, except in the daughters’ room. A few plastic chairs, a refrigerator, and a television are the only pieces of furniture we saw.

I don’t say all this to draw unnecessary attention to their physical needs. I just want you to realize what we are dealing with in reaching out to this family. Taking our cue from Jesus, who did not ignore the physical needs of his followers, and from the Old Testament in which God repeatedly urges his people to demonstrate their faith by taking care of the poor and the orphaned, we want to bring both the good news of the Gospel, and as much practical help as we can to this family.

They brought out plastic chairs, and we sat roughly in a circle. Bishara asked them where they had put the Bible he had given them last time we visited. They admitted that they didn’t know where it had gone. He urged them that next time he brings them one, he wants them to take care of it and read it.

This time, a cousin we had not met before was in the room. Around fifteen years old, he has dropped out of school. He said he was living a normal life when suddenly a deep depression came over him. He now has trouble speaking, and he immediately becomes angry at even simple questions. He did, however, allow Bishara to pray for healing in Jesus’ name.

Bishara shared with them the Gospel message, that Jesus is God who came to earth and died on the cross on our behalf, because of our sins. They all nodded their heads, but it is hard to tell how much they can really understand. Bishara also prayed for them, and urged them to repeat after him, asking Jesus to free them, to enter their hearts, to change their lives.

As we were leaving, the mother of the family seemed very eager to talk more with Lubna and Emily. This woman has struggled for so many years under such a heavy load. She seems to have almost no hope left in her heart. It seems to us that she wants what Bishara says to be true, but that she doesn’t even have the heart to believe that it could really be so. Could God really love her? Could Jesus really want to change her life, and the lives of her husband and her children?

Please pray with us for this weary woman. May she find rest in the one who said “Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.”

Please pray for the children growing up in these circumstances, to be brave in seeking the truth and not blindly the unhealthy path that so many of their ancestors have followed.

Please pray for the husband: we don’t know everything about him or his story, but God does. We believe that there is no drug and no evil spirit that can resist God’s power.

Always, there is hope.

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