By a Team Hope worker in Southeast Asia — Hope shines in the midst of suffering. New life is cultivated in places of darkness, death and dying. This is the story of Advent.
It’s also the story of Aileeza, a Muslim woman whose struggle with diabetes will soon take her life.
We met Aileeza* through her daughter, Keilah, a university student. The Lord has been using many of our ministry teammates to minister to Keilah and her parents, both at home and in the hospital. For five months, we’ve been meeting with this family to pray and share stories from the Bible.
During Aileeza’s recent stay in the hospital due to sepsis, four Christ-followers — two professors and two university students — visited her and, building on these months of sharing, told her once again about Jesus. Aileeza said she understood and wanted to follow Jesus, and so they prayed! In the neighboring bed, another end-stage diabetic patient asked if she could also receive Jesus, so they prayed with her as well.
Praise God with us that Aileeza and Keilah now are studying the Bible together with one of our teammates. Another teammate meets one-on-one with Keilah to field non-stop Biblical and theological questions alongside the stories of the Bible.
Another glimmer of light during this dark season: We gifted Keilah’s father a Bible in his preferred language, along with a pair of reading glasses — and now he and his son are studying the Word with another of our teammates. Keilah’s father has been sharing what he is learning about Jesus with other religious leaders in their community.
Desperate for hope
This is all good news — but Aileeza remains near the end of her life, due to the ravaging destruction of her diabetic illness. The family is still trying to invite spirit healers in a last-ditch effort to save their mother’s body, and their fear and superstition have left them desperate for hope.
But hope shines in the midst of suffering. New life is cultivated in places of darkness, death and dying. We experience a bit of Advent every time we hold hands with our Muslim friends as their babies die, as their parents suffer, as tragedies take lives. We witness the incredible darkness of spiritual bondage and the sting of injustice and abuse that seems to reside permanently in the lives of these families.
As believers, we are called to enter into the suffering of others, and it is a painful process for us as well. And yet, we WAIT and we LONG for the day when God will make all things new and set all things right.
This Advent season we choose to follow in Christ’s steps, to walk into the brokenness and suffering of the hurting, and to hold on to the HOPE that God still is building his kingdom upon this earth. We hold on to the HOPE that God is redeeming in us all that is broken and sick and dead, and bringing these broken vessels to life again. We hold on to the HOPE that new life is offered to all who believe.
“Hope has work for us to do. It asks us to resist going numb when the world within us or beyond us is falling apart. In the height of despair, in the deepest darkness, hope calls us to open our hearts, our eyes, our hands, that we might engage the world when it breaks our hearts. Hope goes with us, step by step, offering to us the manna it holds.” – author Jan Richardson
In ADVENT we wait, we hope, we long for Christ. It is a holy journey.
This Muslim family rejoices to hear that people are praying for them. As you draw close to celebrating the birth of Christ, please pray for his work in their lives.
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” — John 1:14
Be disciples. Make disciples. In the New Year, let’s do both, together.
- Our internship programs include both practical outreach and personal growth through discipling relationships. We offer discipleship-focused internships in Southeast Asia, where Aileeza and her family live, as well as China, Japan, Ukraine, Croatia, Spain, Macedonia and New York City. Find one that suits your interests.
- SEND offers more than 200 opportunities to make disciples around the world. Explore them here.
- You can use this set of resources and stories to grow in your own discipleship and to disciple others, whether at home or overseas.
- Sign up for On Mission, SEND’s monthly guide for people who want to become missionaries. Subscribe here, and as a welcome gift, you will receive a free download of a world map that highlights today’s unreached people groups. Together, we can bring them Good News. We can’t wait to join you on the journey!
*All names in this story have been changed.
Banner image: unsplash-logoGreyson Joralemon