One of our greatest privileges is to live and work amongst the people of South Asia. They have welcomed us into their world and made us feel like family.
Together with them, we have experienced many highs and lows. Highlights such as destitute women given hope and a new opportunity at life. And lows such as the marginalized and minorities who continue to be passed by. But whoever we are in this world, whether we are the esteemed or not, the corona virus is no respecter of persons.
While the virus was hitting many places in the world, somehow our corner of the world seemed mercifully spared. People were complacent and life went on as usual. Then the first case from overseas was diagnosed, suddenly the atmosphere changed as fear gripped at the hearts of an otherwise resilient people.
News spread that the foreigners had brought the disease, and now people were scared of us! I sought to continue my normal routines and went to visit a family that we have supported for many years. They told me that as I am a foreigner, they were somewhat afraid of my coming. But then they rationalized that my husband and I are actually locals! And so we smiled it off.
Over the next two days, as we commuted into the city to visit our team mates, it became obvious to us how deeply this fear had affected everyone. People moved away from us, while others called out a warning when they saw us coming, 'Corona! Corona!' I would try to help the people by replying, 'Don't be afraid! I live here with you! '
And so over these two days, together with our team mates, we made the very difficult decision whether to stay, or go home to NZ. It was like putting together 'puzzle pieces,' in the hope that a clear picture of our guidance would emerge. For us the confirmation came for us to return to NZ.
In what seemed like a whirl wind, we raced to catching the last plane out of our city. And so leaving the fair shores of the land and people we have grown to love.
Suddenly, our world changed dramatically with now living in our small cottage in the bush clad hills of Auckland! From the chaos to the quiet, and time to think and pray. I guess we all are trying to make sense of the unexpected troubles in our world. Then I sensed clarity starting to come.
God speaks to the people of Israel and says; “I will make of the Valley of Achor (trouble), a door of Hope.” Hosea Ch. 2 v 15b. Could this message be for us today too? Is he working something much bigger to fulfill his purposes beyond what we can see?
Now as the whole world is on pause, he woos us back to himself. In the secret place he works to align our heart with his, so that we will come out of this time transformed. And what is it that transforms our hearts? It is the love of Christ, his goodness that leads us to repentance. Then we will never be the same again. And it is this love that propels us to go out and change the world.
He himself showed us what love is all about; “Greater love has no man, than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.’’ John 15v13.
Written by Leonora who serves in South Asia with her husband Peter.