It was so quiet that I could hear a pin drop. A dozen women sat there staring at me with surprised faces. The tension was thick. I was asked to speak at the women's meeting (with a translator, of course), and I dared to touch on a topic that is hardly ever touched on in this culture: suffering and struggles. You see, this is an honor/shame culture, which means they do all they can to avoid shame to themselves or to their families, and they seek to be honored and to honor others at all times. They will often do something called "saving face," meaning they want to always appear guiltless to maintain their "face," or honor, even if it means not being truthful.
I am a firm believer in the beauty of culture. I would never want to impose my culture upon anyone. I want these women to serve and believe within their own beautiful culture and language. However, there are some truths in the Word that should transcend culture. We cannot do something contrary to the Word and just say, "Well, it's cultural." There must be a balance. So, knowing this, I stood up there and shared my personal struggles with them. This is not done. To them, I was not saving face. I was not maintaining honor, and I was pointing out all of my flaws. And this is why a dozen women were looking at me with large eyes and mouths agape. I was openly displaying my "shame."
Afterward, some of the women came up to me and thanked me, telling me I did a good job. Keep in mind, they would do this regardless because it's a way to give me honor, even if they thought I did an awful job. One woman, though, pulled me aside and started sharing about her abusive past and the trauma from it. She thanked me for being so open and honest because it encouraged her to be open about the abuse she experienced. She said she feels she can seek proper healing from it now that she has told someone. For the sake of her privacy, I will call her Miriam. Please be lifting her up. The Father is definitely moving in this place. He is definitely moving in her. And His power is bigger than culture.
The economy severely collapsed in the fall of 2019, just two months after I arrived on-field. I won't go into the details of how or why it happened, but the situation is serious. The local currency has lost over 400% of its value in just eight months. Many stores and businesses aren't even taking the local currency anymore and are demanding dollars, but there is also a dollar shortage here, and obtaining them is extremely difficult and costly. If they are taking the local currency, they are tripling or even quadrupling the prices to try and get more from the currency that is currently worth nothing. I am in an okay place, financially, thanks to the faithful giving of many of you. However, the majority of the nationals have taken a hit.
People have responded in protest as the situation continues to get worse. The government has promised they are working on a solution, but the people are getting understandably restless and frustrated. Businesses are closing their doors, and prices are skyrocketing as salaries and wages are decreasing.
Unfortunately, the crisis has forced me to move from my apartment into a new place. Thankfully, I get to stay in the same village, but the stress of a last-minute move on top of everything else going on is taking its toll. However, I am excited to set up my new house and finally feel truly settled in a place I can call home.
Help this missionary reach Middle Eastern women for Christ, bring them to saving faith and teach them to make disciples who make disciples.
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