…by Cyndi Richardson
*For privacy purposes names of people and places have been changed.
Today I read the monthly report of one of Mustard Seed’s national leaders, a man who serves with all his heart and strength in a poor community that’s tucked deep into our city. Surang Ipit* is a maze of narrow streets and houses where barefoot children splash happily in tropical afternoon rains. The typical school day lasts a couple hours in the morning, a ritual of children wearing uniforms and memorizing content to pass government tests. Their parents eke out meager livings selling street food, fixing sandals, or peddling homemade brooms. On non-rainy days, mothers sit on small porches, nursing babies held close in batik sarongs. Men gather, smoking clove cigarettes, hunkered over worn boards of chess. When the calls to prayer sound, feet are washed, and covered heads fall low to the ground. Though poor and barely educated, the people of Surang Ipit spend their days praying in one language, conversing in another, and repeatedly solving the challenge of putting food on the table for their children.
Eric* looks at the children of Surang Ipit and can’t ignore their need for something more. He serves with all his heart because God’s love compels him (2 Cor. 5:14). He wakes up believing that every person needs to experience God’s love and all the new life Jesus came to give. At the CE Centre, he’s created a safe place for children to learn, explore, and grow. Boys and girls come to talk, dance, draw, or get help with schoolwork. Eric has chosen to serve their families as well. He writes of neighbors lining up for the free health clinic in January that was coordinated by Mustard Seed staff and volunteers all the way until 10pm.
He needs wisdom and prayer to face community challenges. It is not uncommon for the desperate to borrow money at high interest rates that trap them in cycles of debt. The health clinic revealed that an alarming percentage of adults suffer from high blood pressure. Since January, three people have had strokes. There are some parents who hesitate to send their children to the centre for fear that they will become Christians.
Eric faces personal challenges too. He writes: “My wife and I have been married for two years, and we haven’t yet been blessed with a child. We struggle with this. My wife has such a desire to hold a little one . . . we are learning what it means to surrender everything fully to God.”
I am reminded of Hannah, who “wept much and prayed to the Lord” (I Samuel 1:10). May God grant this request once again, and may Eric’s child and the children of Surang Ipit grow up in the freedom and certainty of God’s love for them.