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Mutual blessing at a time of sorrow

CMS missionaries Mike and Karen Roe are serving at George Whitefield College in South Africa. In addition to their official roles, they build relationships with and offer support to students. In this article they share how they have been blessed by those they are caring for. 

Recently we hosted a dinner for seven South Sudanese students from George Whitefield College. We had asked many of our friends and supporters to pray for this, that we might be able to care for these students who were so far from home. 

These young men are from different parts of South Sudan, and some are very new to college. Our intention was to bless them, and help them to build relationships among themselves. However, the Lord’s intention was clearly to answer your prayers by having them bless us, at what proved to be a sad time for our family. 

Sharing life together 

We had a wonderful time together on that Saturday. They enjoyed taking turns to cook the meat on our charcoal barbecue. We gave some of them their first experience of table tennis—in our case, ‘dining-table tennis’. And they showed us just how competitive grown men can  be over noughts-and-crosses!   

It was good time of encouraging and praying for one another. After many enjoyable hours, they left and expressed their appreciation for us being their family, and for Mike being their ‘elder brother’.  

Unity in times of sorrow 

In the days that followed, these ‘new’ brothers showed that these were not merely empty words or simply kind sentiments.     

A couple of days after the joys of that dinner, we received the news that Karen’s beloved maternal grandmother had gone to be with our Lord. As we grieved the death of dear Grandma Mac from afar, the vastness of the oceans and the rigidity of travel restrictions only exacerbated our sadness. We longed to grieve with Karen’s family in Adelaide. But as soon as our new brothers heard of Grandma’s death, they made a time to come to our house to grieve with us—just as it is traditional to do in many African cultures.  

As we sat around the afternoon tea that they brought, Karen showed photos of Grandma, and shared of her life and faith. And then they took turns to sympathise with us, share words of comfort from the Bible, and to express their own thanks to God for the “sincere faith which dwelt first in [our] grandmother … and now dwells in [us] as well” (2 Timothy 1:5).  

And then we wept. Indeed, this was the first time that Amelia and Mitchell were able to truly and openly grieve for their great-grandma. It was precious to be with our new brothers: united in sorrow by the faith and hope that we share in Christ.  

They were to us a truly kind answer to your prayers. They were not an answer that we were expecting. But they were certainly an answer that we needed.  

PRAY 

Give thanks for the comfort God brings through painful circumstances. Pray that he would continue to comfort the Roe family through their grief.