(The author has lived in patches in Toronto, Canada and Indonesia)
I love living among those who are forgotten. The kind of people who aren’t as obviously desperate like the homeless in Canada or orphans in Indonesia.
The people in MoveIn patches do not appear to be very needy at first, but over time, as relationships are built, wounds come to the surface. By this point, they are friends and not just random neighbours, so their burdens become our burdens, which must then be laid at Jesus’ feet.
My friends have told me stories of having had to run for their lives from their home countries. One lady told me how she was beaten from an inch of her life because her husband opposed their government. Another dear friend shared how her husband was physically abusive and a drug addict. Many of our neighbours - now close friends - struggle with unemployment, substance abuse and depression.
One neighbour that particularly stands out is a little girl I met while living in a patch in Indonesia. Her name is Nala and she had just begun grade one when her mother died suddenly. As her father worked all day, Nala was forced to drop out of school to care for her little sister. Together these girls would pass the time walking hand-in-hand throughout the neighbourhood, often stopping by our apartment in the afternoons to read or colour. It was on one such afternoon that I witnessed Nala demonstrating true love and patience. Nala’s little sister got quite upset about something and started punching Nala in frustration. Rather than punch back, as most of us would have done, Nala wrapped her arms around her sister in a motherly hug while her sister continued to hit. This reminded me of what Jesus does for us.
After several months of caring for her sister without a mother to help, Nala and her sister developed scars on their legs; I’m not sure where they came from. Their clothes were often dirty, their hair unkempt. And Nala’s sweet disposition changed after carrying burdens too heavy for a little girl. What could I do to help? I felt overwhelmed, feeling my after school program was inadequate for the needs I was facing in this community.
All we could do was pray. We asked that the Lord would provide Nala with a new mother quickly.
I moved out of that neighbourhood and came back to visit a year later. How happy I was to find out that Nala had a new mother who cared for the girls as her own. God is faithful.
What a privilege to be able to live life alongside these ‘forgotten’ people: to share their burdens, learn from them, and see God answer our prayers for them. And how great to know Jesus, the One who truly understands and has the power to change lives and save to the uttermost.