Gifty lay in bed wondering why she kept waking up at 3:00 each morning to the sound of crying. It was only her third night as a household helper for a non-Christian doctor’s family and she was still orienting to her new job. But she breathed a quick prayer and began groping her way through the dark house toward a nearby balcony where the sobbing seemed to be coming.
After months of the pandemic, jobs in the Middle East were scarce for international workers, so when she was offered a position working for Dr. Zehra, she knew God must have a purpose for her.
In their first meeting together, Dr. Zehra matter-of-factly described some of her family’s needs. Her husband, also a medical doctor and the CFO of their medical care business, had recently had two strokes following a serious case of the coronavirus. He was left paralyzed on one side and had suffered almost complete memory loss. Their seven-year-old son, now with only his mother to depend on, needed attention as well. The family was under overwhelming stress.
Out on the balcony Gifty spoke softly to the form huddled on the lounger. “Miss, how can I help you?” Zehra, the tears in her eyes glistening in the city’s night lights, lifted her face to Gifty and began pouring out her heart. She was trying to carry the business alone. Her son needed a family, but he had only her. The brilliant man she had married didn’t even recognize her any more. And that week she had discovered she had breast cancer.
Zehra talked on as Gifty silently prayed. The more Gifty heard, though, the more she knew what Zehra, a secular professional, needed.
“You must come with me to church this Saturday. We need to be there at eight.” Even though services didn’t begin until 10:30, Gifty always arrived early. Zehra thought a moment, took a deep breath and suggested they leave at 7:00 to be sure to be on time.
Gifty, accustomed to her Sabbath routine, knew what to expect, but as Zehra stepped into the silent sanctuary that Sabbath morning, she was entering a world she’d never experienced before. The rising sun burst through the tall east windows of the church and splashed gold across the old wooden pews. The stark white walls reflected the warmth. Zehra had stepped into a place of peace.
Brother Aladin was already there. He always came to church early too, guitar in hand. He began singing. Songs of praise, of comfort, of patience and hope enveloped the threesome for hours as they waited to worship.
As Sabbath School time approached, more members began arriving and Gifty introduced Zehra like she was family. There was a Bible study group where Zehra felt safe enough to open her heart, share her journey, and cry. She heard a sermon that comforted her. She and Gifty stayed by for a long and blessed afternoon. Zehra had never known anything like it. That night, for the first time in ten months, she didn’t wake up crying at three in the morning; she slept through the night.
That Sabbath was Zehra’s first, simple steps in a journey of hope. Her challenges haven’t changed a lot, but she is learning that everything is in God’s hands and that He loves her family. She still cries, but she doesn’t cry alone. She has been adopted into the lifelong family of God. Her son has found “brothers.”
Each week she meets with her new friends to learn about a Creator who cares for her well-being; she is learning to live more healthfully. Together they’ve begun to study the Bible too. She has found God as her place of peace. Gifty didn’t work for Zehra very long after that Sabbath, but she accomplished the work God had for her to do. When she made her way to the sound of sobbing on the balcony, Gifty was doing her part. Early that first Sabbath morning that Zehra followed her to church, Gifty knew God would do His part. Today, as Gifty and the welcoming church family watches Zehra grow, Gifty’s heart is satisfied that God will continue the beautiful work He has begun.