Thursday, September 11, 2008

A bullet in her leg!

"There's a bullet in my leg! It hurts!"

These words uttered by the Somali woman I often visit drew me up short. A bullet . . . in her leg? How long had it been there, I asked.

"Since 1993," she told me. That's the year she fled her home in the midst of a civil war that wiped out her family and forced her to become a refugee.

This day brought one surprise . . . and one heartache . . . after another. My guest was a Kenyan woman who has a doctorate in community health development. Our first stop at the home of this gentle woman from Burundi spoke to the incredible need here. She works every night in a chicken factory. Her job barely pays for childcare and rent.
"Are you happy?" I asked her.

She shook her head. "No, I'm not."

I didn't have to ask why, though she told me anyway. She is a single mom with three children. Her job is hard. She is thin and hungry and exhausted. The walls inside her apartment are filthy, crawling with cockroaches. The odor almost overpowers her guests.

What future does she have? What hope? She needs our prayers and whatever support we can give.

The second home is inhabited by my Somali friend, her husband, and their seven children. Today she was entertaining guests who had just arrived in America from a Somali refugee camp in Kenya. Seated on the floor, she was complaining about the pain in her leg. When she began to talk about the bullet lodged there, I sensed the long history of suffering and loss she has endured. (photo removed by request)

While she talked to my friend from Kenya, I greeted the young Somali woman in the kitchen. It's Ramadan, so none of the adults may eat from sunrise to sunset. But they were preparing a big feast for the moment they could eat. (photo removed by request)

"Why do you fast?" I asked my friend. She avoided the question by telling me about her woes -- too many children, a broken dryer, and -- oh, yeah -- that bullet in her leg.
(photo removed by request)

I'm not sure she knows why she fasts during Ramadan. But I know. She and her family use the month as a time to repent of their sins and ask God to forgive them. By doing good deeds and obeying the laws of their Muslim faith, they hope to be allowed into heaven.

I'm grateful that Jesus gave Himself as the ultimate sacrifice. I don't have to try to be good enough to please God. When God looks at me, He sees the face of Jesus who removed the penalty of my sins -- now and for all eternity.

No comments: