God breaks down barriers in Central Asia
One Sunday afternoon Mr. Xu’s older brother came back from the village with a dead wild rooster in a grocery bag. He presented this precious delicacy to me as a thank-you gift. Mr. Xu, the father of one of my students, had asked his older brother to hunt for the bird especially for me. His generous gift says a lot about the respect and friendship we share.
As a woman working in a patriarchal society, there are gender boundaries that prevent me from having much direct interaction with men. I mainly work with married women and children. While husbands are the decision-makers for the family, they typically leave child rearing to their wives. And many women feel helpless to make changes.
A few months ago, I shared this challenge with an experienced worker who lives in another part of the world but in a similar cultural context. She told me to ask God to “pull” a man into the picture. Knowing I’m powerless, I asked God to do the impossible.
A few weeks passed and then one day an elderly woman told me about the difficulties her youngest son’s family is facing. I went to visit this young couple and their two sweet girls. The older girl Miriam is a cute first-grader who bonded quickly with me.
Miriam’s father is Mr. Xu. He runs a mo-mo (local bread) store in a tiny place where he makes and sells the mo-mo. The store is the family’s hangout place where Miriam does her homework and plays with her sister. As I help Miriam with her schoolwork, her parents listen along. Miriam is an attentive and teachable student but she lacks coaching.
Seeing her parents’ involvement as an essential element of her learning, I invite them to participate. Over time, Mr. Xu has begun to help out and care for his daughter’s schoolwork in a positive manner. It’ been wonderful to see the change in him.
He told me that he did not know how to coach Miriam because he was never coached by anyone. He had a tough childhood and achieved less than a middle school education. There was only one middle school in his hometown and he had to walk three kilometers to get there. During the freezing winter he suffered frostbite on his fingers. Discouraged, he quit school after two years. Mr. Xu regrets that decision and hopes his daughter succeeds and lives a better life.
The wild rooster Mr. Xu gave me is a significant gesture of friendship and appreciation. These men can be hard to reach. I am humbled by the amazing power of our Heavenly Father. With His mighty hands and outstretched arms, He “pulled” a man into the picture! He makes the impossible possible. Though my faith is small, great is His faithfulness. Pray with me for relationships like these to draw men and their families to Jesus.