Pakistan and books and secrets and old college friends
In the little bookclub I’m in, we recently read Three Cups of Tea. Much of our conversation about the book evolved into discussions on the nature of the work of Jesus, and missions, the heart of God the Father for the people of Pakistan.
Greg Mortenson, the co-author and subject of Three Cups… lives a decidedly secular life, and has now built nearly 200 schools in Pakistan as a secular “mission.” Yet, as Christians discussing the book, it was easy to see that Greg was doing the work of the Father by caring for and providing for the downtrodden, the poor, the forgotten, the outcasts, the needy, the neglected… all with a motivation simply to meet needs and serve — not for personal gain.
I can’t really explain in a few sentences how our three or so hours of bookclub discussion on the topics of the book were summed up. We were left with a lot of questions and wonderments about what the purposes of God were in all of this, for Greg himself, for the nation of Pakistan, for the people served by Greg’s “ministry.” In short, nothing was really resolved in our discussion.
But, at least for me, the book really stirred up a heart of compassion for the people of Pakistan, and an alertness to events there. I recently read a news article that mentioned a bombing in north Waziristan. I thought, “I KNOW WHERE THAT IS!” Instantly, my thoughts went to the Waziris to whom I’d been “introduced” by reading Three Cups…, praying for their safety.
The missions-and-leadership-equipping arm of my church has a quarterly newsletter it publishes. I’m not the editor, but I do a final proofread on it for clarity, grammar, punctuation, etc. A couple of days ago, I proofread the most recent edition, and in it was a blurb about how the ministry had been invited to Pakistan by some Pakistani Christians. I literally squealed, and my heart’s first response was, “I want to go!”
I called the church office, all excited. Neither my pastor, nor anyone else, called me back about it.
I spent a day pondering and praying about my response to the idea of our church sending a team, potentially, to Pakistan.
Did God use Three Cups to stir my heart, specifically, for that trip?
Is this the sort of thing where God turns what might seem to be an irrational desire — for a mother of five, including a nursing infant, to want to go minister in a war zone — into His purpose? In other words, is this the sort of thing where God might be calling me to have absolute faith in His ability to make impossible (or at least, highly unlikely) things happen for His glory and His purpose, using me in the process?
Or is it just fruitless and unwise for me to let my heart wander over the desire to go?
For almost two days, I said nothing to my husband. I love him so dearly, but as his first response to virtually everything is, “No,” I just didn’t want to be discouraged by his reaction, especially when I know I need to honor him, and if he says no, then no it is. For the record, he always prayerfully considers and reconsiders serious matters, and often ends up supporting things to which he initially has a negative response. Still, I didn’t want him to rain on the elation of my private Pakistani parade, so I kept my thoughts to myself.
Eventually, though, I felt like I was keeping a secret from him, and in general, I don’t share enough of my heart with him when, truly, he is kind and trustworthy.
So, I called him at work.
“Babe? There’s something I’ve been needing to mention to you…” I trailed off, uncertain how to proceed.
He jumped in, “PAKISTAN!”
“What??” I asked, incredulous. “How’d you know?” Immediately, I internally answered my own question, with an accompanying, “Duh.”
“Dennis mentioned it in a conversation.” Dennis, our pastor. Of course. Laughingly, Martin continued, “He asked me if you were aware it is a war zone, and I said, yeah, you are.”
That was the end of the conversation.
My thoughts are still full.
Earlier today, my thoughts traveled to a couple of friends I had my freshman year of college. They were twins, girls from Pakistan, Gia and Zuni. Well, they were from Louisiana, but both their parents were born in Pakistan, and I think they were, too. We bonded over the fact that we were seemingly the only girls on our dorm floor who weren’t interested — AT ALL — in joining a sorority, and our mutual loves of alternative rock and Ayn Rand books. (I’m not such a big Ayn Rand fan any more — the individual as savior, kind of like a humanistic form of selfish Buddhism, does not appeal to me.) Also, they were mildly curious about my Christianity, and humored me in it, at least. There were very few Christians at Tulane, and those I had found were pretty much of the persuasion that, “We Christians need to stick together and not fraternize with all the heathens around us” which didn’t really mesh with my theology nor personal tendencies, so most of my friends ended up being non-Christians who just didn’t care that I was a Christian. Somewhere along the line, one of the girls said, “You’re the only Christian we’ve ever known” which hit me with a monumental weight of both responsibility and guilt for not being a very good example of Christ-likeness, and, immaturely, I began neglecting our friendship.
Anyways. I tried looking them up online today, just doing a Google search. I found Zuni, who now goes by her given name of Zunera, on Facebook. But, I’m not on Facebook myself, so I couldn’t contact her. Not that I’m sure she’d remember me. Plus, I am always ashamed of my lack of academic accomplishment when meeting those who are accomplished… similar to when I found out that a childhood friend is now a well-known research pediatrician affiliated with a university, after running into her mom, who gave me some contact info, which I never used. I mean, I KNOW my worth doesn’t come from what I do, or any worldly credentials, but it’s hard to keep that at the forefront of my thoughts, sometimes.
But, I do wonder if that almost-friendship with Gia and Zunera plays even a small role in the development of my minimal history and possibly-expanded future with Pakistan and her people.
I’ll keep you posted.