Living the Gospel to disabled youth
OM North Africa
“I had a mentor once who told me that there are not four gospels, but five: the Gospel of Matthew, Mark, Luke, John—and the gospel of you,” long-term worker Aaron* said.
In this North African country, it is illegal to preach the Word of God openly to local Muslims. Workers there must proclaim the gospel through their lives. One couple and one single woman are doing this through therapy centres for disabled youth in two different cities.
Side by side
Aaron and his wife, Lydia*, have worked with disabled children for the past several years. They have helped children to walk who had never walked before. They taught parents how to properly care for their children. They even brought in a dentist to take care of the children’s teeth.
“I’m doing what I love and loving what I’m doing,” he said. He knows their time as foreigners in this country could be limited and he is grateful for each day.
Aaron and Lydia love interacting with families, and they have a great reputation at the centre. “It’s about blessing people, putting a smile on their face,” Aaron said. “We must remind ourselves all the time that we must be like these little children.”
Currently, Lydia works alongside him in the centre’s workshop, welding and doing repairs. She knows more than the male employees, Aaron said. Culturally, it’s very strange for them to see a wife working alongside her husband, but it’s a conversation starter.
Aaron is also training a local man to take over the repairs at the centre, should Aaron and Lydia need to leave the country. For them, it is a daily choice to carry on with the time they have been given.
Wheelchair and a guitar
Cyndi* lives out the gospel by spending her free hours visiting families of disabled children in a different city in North Africa.
The mothers believe it is a task they have received from God to care for these children, but often they don’t know how to live that out. Cyndi often goes to their homes and acts as an advocate between parents and children when there is tension.
One girl is 19 years old and in a wheelchair. She craves more independence, but her mother will not allow her to go out. On top of this, her family often beats her when she misbehaves.
Because the girl’s family respects Cyndi, she is allowed to take the girl out to visit friends. Cyndi prays with her and shares her burdens when they meet together. The girl and her friends love to sing, so Cyndi plays praise songs on her guitar for the girls to sing in Arabic.
“There’s so much need of healing in so many areas,” she said. She truly believes God is using the centre to impact lives, but she longs to see hearts change as well.
Pray for Cyndi to continue to show God’s love to families in practical ways. Pray for Aaron and Lydia to continue to be used by God in the lives of disabled children and their families.
Author: Megan Ross
[Megan Ross is a photojournalism student who is passionate about telling the stories of how God is moving in our world. She recently completed a three-month communications internship with OM Middle East North Africa and is open to wherever the Lord leads next.]
After the September bombings in which hundreds were injured and over 150 lost their lives, OM Pakistan implemented a plan to support those who were particularly in need of help.
A small team visited the area to assess how best to help the community practically and began a series of hospital visits, bringing fruit, listening to the tragic stories of lives damaged by the bombing and praying for individuals.
As the news went out globally of OM Pakistan’s support plan, a number of OM fields pledged financial help, enabling those in the area to begin offering practical help in meeting hospital bills and paying school fees for children. Those who had been orphaned through the attacks were particularly at risk, and in need of help to survive. Whole families had been destroyed—in one family, nine family members died. Hospitals were inadequately prepared to cope with such tragedy.
“We are visiting the people in the hospital every day,” said a team member. “We are praying with them, for them and seeking how we may help them. Some need serious surgery to remove the nuts and bolts that the bombs contained for maximum damage. One young girl is paralysed because bomb materials entered her body and damaged her spine. Others are still waiting to have internal objects removed.”
The team is also visiting those at home who have lost loved ones, as well as those who have been discharged from the hospital.
“One young lad of 15, who lost his father, mother and only sister in the blast, is now living with his grandfather,” reports the team member. “We have been able to pay his entire school fees for this academic year and hope to support him further financially.”
They have been able to help another family, where the mother was badly burnt, through financial support to enable her to get care at a private hospital. Her only son was also injured during the blast and was admitted into hospital as well; however, as he is mentally handicapped he may need additional care.
“One father is anxiously awaiting further news of his two young daughters who were badly bomb damaged and have been transported to another city,” said the team member. “As one of the poorer members of his community, he feels his lack of influence in being able to obtain much needed care for his precious girls.”
Children have lost their parents and need support in their studies. Many still need medical treatment.
“We are looking at each on a case-by-case basis and seek to help in any way we can, including trauma counselling training if possible,” reported the team member. “A number of students in a Christian school could benefit from our help, too.”
Other organisations, both Christian and others, are helping the injured and needy, and the government has promised support to local orphans and relatives who have lost family members.
As the team continues to reach out, please pray for the situation in the area, where the atmosphere is tense and there are increasing threats of suicide attacks, especially around this time of Eid, a religious festival. Please pray for the safety of the team as they travel.
Serving beyond their comfort zones
Marie Reyes, 30, from Australia found out that she would be leader of the Cebu team on the first night of Out of the Comfort Zone (OCZ), and after a momentary panic and quick prayer, she stepped into the role and trusted God for wisdom and grace to lead.
“God could not have picked a better team for this mission,” said Marie after the two-week outreach in the Philippines. “He knew that all our strengths and weaknesses combined would give Him the greater glory. We stepped out of our comfort zones of familiarity and routine in a world where the only thing we were certain of was that His presence was with us.”
The OCZ Cebu team was exposed to many of OM Philippines-Cebu ministries, including the ministries of Banilad, Capitol, Tac-an Day Care Center, Opao and Port Outreach, Mountain Tap-tap Church, the Drop In Centre Feeding Program and Alternative Learning System Out of School Youth education programme.
In the final week, the OCZ Cebu team spent five days teaching the gospel to elementary students at Philippine Gospel Christian School during their Christ Emphasis Week. The love of Christ was shared through songs, drama and salvation bracelets, with many of the children praying genuinely to ask Jesus into their hearts.
“The people I met in Cebu taught me how to live simply and to love much just by being present,” added Marie. “Loving through listening, smiling and a simple hug. God [also] revealed another side of His grace to me in these three weeks. He taught me that when I don't know, He knows! When I don't have the capacity to do what's ahead of me, He becomes my ability and strength!"
"He is strength in my weakness; He is the amazing grace, the one who steadies my shaking feet as I find myself in an area out of my comfort zone. God taught me that out of my comfort zone, His grace is waiting and is sufficient for me, and that I need not fear.”