Fixing Roofs and Mending Hearts
You want me to do what? I thought as I eyed the back of the bicycle warily. I looked down at my colorful wrap skirt and back at the seat of the bicycle. “Yes, get on,” said my new friend in his beautiful Malawian accent. I carefully launched myself onto the bicycle seat opting to sit side-saddle because of my skirt and I was surprised how comfortable it was. We took off for the village. I sat on the back of the bicycle with my hair blowing in the breeze, and I wondered how this became my life. As we rode though the village, I heard the beautiful song of Malawian women and waved at little kids as they shouted and smiled. The hot African sun-kissed my dark hair as we rode on and on deeper into the village, even stopping once to cross a river on foot.
We finally arrived at our destination, the home of a widow. The men immediately climbed on the roof to begin removing the thatch and make repairs that would keep the home dry in the rain. We were greeted by about ten women, all in colorful wrap skirts, some with babies on their backs. The widow who owned the home came over to greet us as well. She was small or maybe just bent with age, and her hands were wrinkled and soft. Her eyes glistened with unshed tears as she tried to communicate her thanks in her native tongue.
Not sure what to do with myself, I walked over to the completely unsafe looking ladder leaning against the side of the house. I looked down at my wrap skirt again and back at the ladder. Nope. Not happening. I asked one of our translators what I could do to help and he told me I should share with the women. I looked over to the shaded ground beneath two huge trees where all the women and babies had gathered and were chatting quietly, waiting. Someone volunteered to translate for me and so I took a deep breath and walked over to the group.
The widow had laid down a rough looking tarp for us to sit on so we did not have to sit on the ground. A gracious show of hospitality from a women who has so little. I stood on the tarp with bare feet stained reddish brown from the Africa earth and looked at the women. I did not know I would be asked to speak, but I silently asked the Lord what He wanted me to share as the translator made the introductions.
One thing I have learned through traveling the world and speaking to people of many different nations is though we are so different we are all the same. We all cry over what breaks our heart. We all have struggles with family, money, education and jobs. We all deal with shame from things done in the past and struggles to trust God with the future. Knowing this I looked at the women and spoke about my personal struggle with trust and how to keep your eyes on Jesus when you are walking through a storm. A man named Peter taught me about that. You can find this story in Matthew 14:22-33.
As I shared my story and Peter’s story, and how they had both worked together to teach me, I was once again in awe of how powerful stories are. No wonder Jesus used them so often. I thought about how the night before we brought a huge screen and projector to the village to show The Jesus Film. A huge storm rolled in, but people stayed. Malawian’s of all ages stood underneath a few trees wrapped in blankets and jackets with cold rain dripping down their faces mesmerized by the story of a man named Jesus.
That next morning, as I stood with my blue and orange wrap skirt and dirty bare feet, I shared the Good News that when we trust in Jesus, He will never forsake us. When we are walking through storms that seem to swallow us, we can keep our eyes fixed on Him and He will grab our hand and hold us up. As I finished speaking and several women asked for help in committing their lives to Christ, we all had tears in our eyes.
The beautiful Gospel is that despite our continual lack of trust in Him, He loves us anyway and always greets us with open arms is overwhelming.
After we finished praying and speaking to each other through the translator, the men working on the roof were ready for us. All of us women, young and old, worked together to carry the new thatch to the men for the roof. We smiled to each other as we passed by carrying our sticky loads. I realized that the Lord had asked us there not only to help fix a roof, but to watch as the Father mended hearts.
You too can be a part of sharing the beautiful Gospel. You don’t have to travel across the world and ride on the back of a bicycle in a colorful wrap skirt to do so (although I hope you get the chance if you want it!). But you, woman of faith, can share the Gospel right where you are.
Maybe with the girl in your college class who curiously asks why you choose to live differently.
Share about the One who cares with the kid whose parents don’t care and so he is convinced no one does.
Love on the widows and orphans in your community who are so lonely they feel forgotten.
There are opportunities all around us each day to share the beautiful Gospel and it all begins with choosing to show up and share our stories, and His, with those around us.
// Photos courtesy of Amanda Goodroe