Written by Debbie Tingley Director of Hands to Heart Women’s Cooperative
Sometimes, you are at a loss, loss of words to tell something just so unimaginable… and sometimes, He breaks your heart more than once for what breaks His.
Honestly, I have been wrestling with this since that morning that came upon our team, in the village of Huay Sai Luang, as we were told of a precious little boy of 6 years, who had passed early that morning in the village. I made my way up the road as tears started to well up in my eyes, to see if I could make out some details from a village woman who met me. She met my sorrowful eyes with hers as the head village woman came down to meet us and took my hand in hers, leading me up the Hill to a hut. As we entered the hut, my eyes were drawn to a most perfectly bundle of royal blue, lying on a straw mat. I knelt down at His feet, thinking out loud, ” Why oh why my Lord? Even though I knew it isn’t for me to question His timing or plan. I had so many questions, hard ones which probably will never be answered and I will have to be okay with that.
They uncovered just His sweet face in a peaceful sleep and motioned for me to pray over the boy, which I was honored to do. I felt my lips quiver as I relied only on Him to give me the strength and words. I tried to find out who the parents were and now it is more clear to me what the villagers were trying to communicate. The boy was the beloved son of a mother who had just arrived in the village from Myanmar as a refugee. A grieving wife who had recently lost her husband, fearfully displaced from her home and country to a land leaving her not much better with poverty, disparity, isolation, racism, and now mourning mother over the loss of her precious little boy. Unimaginable. Our team prayed over them and the village. The villagers then quickly sized up the boy with a bamboo stick and began to forage for boards to embrace him with suitable coffin. I still did not know nor see who this little angel’s mother was. As I was starting to exit the hut I saw a woman humped over behind a stack of rice bags, watching me cautiously. I felt the Lord tug at my heart and made my way over to kneel down beside her. I gently placed my hand over hers and she looked up into my eyes with a penetrating gaze of great despair and sorrow. At that moment it was as if all time stood still. I felt her hand embrace mine as if to acknowledge my gesture. No words spoken but only felt from the deepest place of the heart. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:4
Mother and child were strangers embraced by a loving village, the ITDF staff members, and our own team with the love of Jesus, as we came alongside these beautiful souls, precious children of God. It was a confirmation and great reminder to me of His love, His perfect timing and His plan as He unfolds it through protection, preparation and positioning.
Although vastly different, on some levels I resonated with this place of wilderness. This is where He met me, just as I was, pulling me closer to Him. Peeling back the protective layers of my heart, filling in my brokenness and despair with His love and hope. It is there in the wilderness where He began to weave my heart whole again, turning such beauty out of the ashes of hopelessness, despair, and great sorrow. The God of Grace prefers to meet us in the wilderness. That is where He performs His surgery on our hearts, restoring and refreshing us. And as some doors close, He opens others as we start a new season, a new set of challenges individually. Missionary Amy Carmichael knew this truth: “Bare heights of loneliness . . . a wilderness whose burning winds sweep over glowing sands, what are they to HIM? Even there He can refresh us, even there He can renew us.”
I can only hope and pray that this precious sister would some day know Him and all His promises, as He meets her in the wilderness to refresh her with His living water of hope. I pray as I return to Huay Sai Luang soon, I wouldn’t miss one thread of opportunity He might give me to share His good news with her. Share how he met me right there in the wilderness with such unimaginable grace which led me to follow Him thousands of miles away to a small village of Huay Sai Luang. I thank God for this journey, breaking my heart for the marginalized and oppressed, keeping me humbled and continuing to refresh me with His word. I thank all of you individually immensely for being part of the “Hands to Heart” village team through prayer, encouragement and provision.
You make my heart sing with joy!