By E. B., a Navigator worker in the Middle East
The names in this article have been changed for security reasons.
Last summer, our son and his new bride, Ivy, came to spend their honeymoon in the Middle East, where our son was raised. Just before they headed back home, my son’s childhood “aunties” threw Ivy a Middle Eastern version of a bridal shower.
On the evening of the party, our local friends whisked the bride off to dress her in a traditional red dress in lace, resplendent with glittering gold embroidery. One of them proudly produced a family heirloom veil and lovingly put it on Ivy’s head. Then they stepped back to admire this North American girl who, in their minds, had just become Middle Eastern. With her long, dark hair, Ivy really looked the part. She was absolutely stunning!
An elaborate ceremony followed. The guests, whom Ivy had just met, encircled her and joyfully sang traditional songs. I was so proud of how Ivy carried herself; she put on a big smile and fully embraced her role! Ivy’s courage was rewarded when our dear friends showered her with gifts of gold coins, jewelry and hand embroidered linen.
As I reflect on this, I’m reminded that we are the Bride of Christ! He has dressed us in resplendent garments of salvation and arrayed us in a robe of righteousness, “as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest and as a bride adorns herself with jewels” (Isaiah 61:10-11). The inscription on our crown reads, “Holy to the Lord” (Exodus 39:30). In His eyes, we really look the part. We were created to wear these garments and to receive the family heirloom headpiece which He purchased for us.
As I develop strong, authentic friendships within the unbelieving Middle Eastern community where I live, I am learning to more fully embrace the fact that I “carry” the presence of Jesus wherever I go. This “clothing” gives me joy and helps me to be more courageous and intentional in my witness.
Recently God used this awareness to help me with Elif, a woman who works for my husband and me in our business. In her previous job, she was the victim of a horrible accident that caused her to lose most of the fingers on her hand. One of our first conversations was about her fingers.
“Was God punishing me for all the bad things I’ve done?” she mused. I knew she was merely verbalizing her view of God, that Allah is to be feared, or else.
I reached out and held her hand. “Can I pray for you?” I asked. She nodded, and I closed my eyes. I reminded myself that I carried the presence of God, and that His love could be felt by Elif through my intentional “laying on of hands” and prayer of faith. I thanked God and praised Him for how He loves. I asked for Elif to know the love of God. When I looked up, Elif’s face was wet with tears. God had been faithful to touch her heart with a new narrative about Him—a narrative of love and grace.
Weeks later, I was at the office praying when God brought to mind Zechariah 8:21, which is about people in one city inviting residents of another city to seek the “Lord of Hosts” (Zechariah 8:21). With a renewed sense of confidence, I boldly asked God to lead one person to invite another to seek the Lord of Hosts.
Presently there was a knock on the door. It was Elif. “I don’t know why, but I just felt drawn here,” she began. Immediately there was another knock on the door. Elif’s coworker poked her head in and said, “Elif came to me and said, ‘I’m going to seek God in prayer. Will you come with me?’” Graciously, God responded to my prayer—a prayer emboldened by the awareness of the wrap-around presence of the Lord of Hosts.
The two women sat across from me, put out their hands, and said, “Will you pray for us? We must have what you carry!” I was delighted to do so.
Last month, after she read the Gospel daily with me, Elif asked to be dressed in a garment of salvation and arrayed in a robe of righteousness. God placed a crown on her head: “Holy to the Lord.” In God’s eyes, she totally looks the part! Stunning!
What miracles and rewards await Elif now, as she steps into the role like Ivy did, with a big smile, fully embracing her new identity?