The small flowers and swirls on the woman’s head scarf are unusually bright. She sits in front of me at church, and the colors stand out against the low white ceiling. I’ve seen those colors many times this month. Hanging on clotheslines and on teapots at the bazaar and on posters and vases and doors- vibrant colors that seem to contrast with reality.
On Sundays, we gather in a fairly large room of a small house, where a wall was taken down to put in some benches and chairs and form a type of worship hall. If you come as a one-time visitor, it just looks like another group of people that have come together to worship Christ. But if you come as a one-time visitor, you won’t know or hear or learn things, things that will stir your soul.
You won’t know that the man that is preaching is an ex-criminal who devoted his life to picking up people that have no hope or future, people that the government chooses to ignore as they live outside and find relief in drugs and alcohol. You won’t know that most of the women live without their husbands; husbands who’ve exchanged their families for jobs and ladies in higher-paying countries. You won’t know that the man that sings his heart out as he strums the guitar spent most of his life behinds bars until the Lord found him there, and the praise coming from his lips is the only way he knows how to thank Him. And the other preacher, in quiet conversation tells you that because of his love for Christ, he wouldn’t give a second thought to dying for him, and he’s been in situations close to it already. You won’t hear about the teens that have to run from angry parents at home, seeking rest and understanding in fellowship with their new family. And the woman who’s been a second wife twice, and can’t afford to rent an apartment for herself and her six kids because of wrong people and wrong choices. And the parent-less children and the lonely old lady and all the others; and we worship and sing and pray together to the One that still creates beauty from ashes.
And some of them, they sleep on hard mattresses and pillows and altogether in one room, around a small heater that barely warms them. But those cold rooms, they hold warm, serving hearts of people with a dark past and a bright future.
And it starts to make sense when I think of the colors around me, the colors that stand in contrast to the dirt and the mud that reflects the deep poverty and aching hearts of the Tajik people.
Because here, under one roof, I see colors in their souls. A tapestry of dark hearts turned to white. Vibrant reds and greens and yellows, life painted over black. A masterpiece only one Painter can accomplish.
Vessels that seemed to be of no use molded into beautiful souls that are fulfilling their purpose.
The wisest of men once noted this truth. “He has made everything beautiful in its time.” Ecclesiastes 3:11
He still creates beauty from ashes.