Friday, August 6, 2010

Cross-cultural torture and witnessing

A Peruvian girlfriend introduced me to a form of middle eastern torture called threading.  While the pain is significant, the results are pretty amazing and I am hereby resigned to subjecting myself to this ritual once a month.

A few years back, on or around my 30th birthday, I decided that I wanted people to know that I am a Christian.  Even if I met them just once.  Ideally, this would be accomplished through my actions and my great love for them.  Usually, though, I found a simple phrase or word that kind of set the bar, so to speak.

In the case of the Pakistani woman who performs my threading (whom I have come to love), and also in the case of the woman who runs the shop (whom I have come to love), I just can't seem to spit it out.  Even when they talk about Allah, even when they promise to pray for me.  I usually think "Ack!" and then nothing comes out of my mouth.  For once in my ever-loving life, I am rendered speechless.

I honestly don't know why.  It could be that it takes all my energy to understand what they are saying.  It could be that I am in their place of business and have no desire to offend.  It could be that I'm a wimp.  It's quite possibly all of the above.

Today, before I got out of the car, I did two things.  I braced myself for the pain to come, and I asked Jesus to help me.

And the oddest thing happened.  After my threading, I went up to the front to pay.  Instead of the usual howareyourkidhowisyourhusbandcanyoubelievethisweather small talk which has become the norm for us, the dear sweet woman (whose name sounds kind of like Ezekiel to me), began telling me some very sad and very personal details about her life.  I'm sure my eyes were bugging, what with trying my darnedest to understand her and wondering what exactly on earth was going on, it was all I could do to nod and murmur and take her henna-ed hand in mine as the tears coursed down her face.

I was really at a loss.  I had no idea why she chose to share this with me.  I had no earthly idea how to help.

But of course I had no earthly idea how to help, but I could offer to pray for her.  She smiled sadly and nodded vigorously as she squeezed my hand and said, "Yes. Please pray for me."

And so I will. 

The funny thing is that all along I had imagined myself taking some grand, monumental stand for my faith there in that little shop.  I imagined proclaiming Jesus' name with my head held high and my shoulders back, come what may.  In this case, the deal wasn't to proclaim my faith.  It was to live it.


  1. I just love this. Once again God has used your gift of compassion and prayer. This day will not soon leave this woman, I am know it.