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Health fears lead to hope-filled conversations 

CMS missionary Anne* teaches English, and conducts sociological research amongst nomadic people in the Middle East. This gives opportunities for significant conversations about important subjects—life, death, God, hope, relationships. Here Anne tells how one such conversation has led to many more. 

“So why are they afraid of death?” Om Jamal replied, “Because of the punishment [that comes] after death.”  

I live and work in the Middle East, looking for opportunities to spend time with the women of nomadic families and learn from them. As well as teaching English in the city where I live, I am involved in ethnographic research amongst these families. They are welcoming and hospitable people and I have enjoyed building relationships with several women, including Om Jamal*. 

A conversation about health, death and hope in God 

One day earlier this year I was visiting Om Jamal’s family in their tent in a remote corner of the country, together with two European nurses from a different village. Om Jamal said to us, talking about her mother-in-law who was unwell, “The doctor shouldn’t have frightened her like that, speaking so bluntly about her condition.”  

One of the nurses, Greta, responded, “But it’s important for her to know the facts, so that she can make wise health choices. And anyway, think about why people are afraid to hear the truth about their health. Isn’t it because they are afraid of death? So why are they afraid of death?”  

Om Jamal nodded and replied, “Because of the punishment [that comes] after death.”  

Greta responded, “We don’t need to be afraid. We know that we’ll go to heaven and not receive the punishment we deserve.”  

Then Greta explained how the Messiah died for our sake and rose again so that we can have eternal life with God, without fear. Om Jamal listened intently, drawn to this new message she was hearing. 

One conversation has led to others 

I’ve stayed with Om Jamal in her tent a couple of times since this conversation. We have enjoyed working and chatting together, and we even had an adventure driving to hospital for surgery on her finger! I’ve warmed to this strong, but exhausted woman—hardened by life in the desert, yet with a softness in her. We have talked about many things, sharing life stories and things we care about.  

Om Jamal was particularly drawn to the story of Hagar in Genesis 16—how God saw her in her despair and cared for her. She has also been impressed by the message of Jesus, and the hope he gives of life without sickness and hardship.  

Please pray with me that Om Jamal and others like her, would know that this gift of life is offered freely for her to receive too. 

*Names in this article have been changed for privacy reasons. 

PRAY

Pray for Om Jamal, and for Anne’s relationships with nomadic women: that in her work and speech she might honour God, and so bring the gospel to their lives and society.