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Bold and graceful lily

Like a lily among thorns is my darling among the young women. -SOS 2:2

The first moment stepping off the truck and into the village can be disorienting. As you’re driving along you never really know exactly how much farther before you arrive at the church so as I step out I’m always fighting back the “spacy brain syndrome” and trying to identify who’s who. Monday afternoon I was quickly shaken out of my semi-stupor by a woman whose spirit was BOLD. She didn’t hesitate one bit with our team and her audacity made me want to know her that much more. I was intrigued to find out that no, she wasn’t the pastor of the church we were at. In fact, she didn’t even live in the village we were in. She was a visitor. But neither this fact nor her still-developing English held her back one bit. She was a woman totally unhindered, willing to immediately speak into the lives of our team of small white women. In this she was blatantly counter-cultural. Her name was Susan.

I found her clear directions to us refreshing. She wasn’t belittling us in any way. No, she honored us uniquely by assuming our humility. And she was right – none of us came on this mission trip looking for praise. In many cultures, simply by being white you often have a high level of intrinsic respect. But when I am the focus of attention how can I convey that I see each one of these villagers to be of infinitely greater significance than myself? Susan got that about us from the first moment and quickly made our coming NOT about us. Praise God for her.

I respect Susan so much because I feel as though I knew her spirit. I didn’t misunderstand her curtness for disdain. That was just how she moves about this earth. Later that evening, after the house visiting, praying, singing, and playing with children was finished, Susan graciously and humbly served us our tasty curry supper. Susan was Jesus to me in that village.

Sometimes when I read my Bible I am taken aback at the audacity Jesus had. I love that about him. In Mark 5 Jesus and his disciples come upon the funeral of a 12 year old girl. Jesus saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. And when he entered the funeral, he said to them, “Why are you making a commotion and weeping? The child is not dead but sleeping.”
Whoa. Jesus. If he hadn’t raised her from the dead the family probably would have been quite offended. But of course he did, because he’s Jesus. I love his ability to be borderline rude but at the same time humble and in no way demanding the attention be put on himself. He was direct for the sake of the people he was there for. I saw the same spirit in Susan.

Susan told me about her brothers and sisters and the families they had started. I noticed that Susan didn’t have any of the markings of a woman who is married in India and when I asked her if she had a family as well she said no. She is a woman completely set apart for the Lord. Even coming from a culture of independence that is audacious faith. How much more unique she is here. In Hebrew the meaning of the name Susan is “graceful lily”. She is the Lord’s lily among thorns.

Susan teaches at a college for teachers. I asked her if she shares the Gospel with her Hindu and Muslim students. She says she does with them at lunchtime, and she invites them to church with her on Sundays. She currently shares the preaching at her small church with her 90-year old bike-riding father. He sounds like a real firecracker. Maybe it runs in the family? She is chasing her dream of one day building an orphanage. She’s got the plot of land. And she’s not hesitating one bit. She took down my email and I look forward to supporting her in her bold and humble pursuit of Gods Kingdom in Andhra Pradesh, India.

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