“Who cares about people anyway?”, she asked as we sipped tea from chipped teacups. “The state doesn’t, the country doesn’t, the officials don’t…”
I restrained from commenting as I continued sitting there, waiting for what would be said next.
She was a mother of seven and grandmother of one. The children ranged in age from one to 20, with plenty of numbers in between. Although she was barely past 40, she looked well beyond 50. The wrinkled skin on her face and her slow footsteps spoke of back pain and endless days tilling the ground under the hot steppe sun of central Kazakhstan.
She continued slowly, brows furrowed as she went back in time to tough memories and difficult days. And once she started sharing her story, the words flowed from her lips as though they’d been struggling to come out for a long, long time.
And we sat and we listened. Listened long and hard as it all came together, as her life story played out.
It was a life lived in deep poverty and painful mistakes, of suffering and pain and injustice, of ignorance and betrayal and loss, of alcohol and failure and a seemingly endless list of dark words and dark worlds.
Until the light broke through. And the darkness scattered, and the Light became life, and life became new for this woman who’d been battered and beaten and almost overtaken.
And she sat there, and we talked and we cried and we prayed together. Together in that kitchen where mold covers the walls every season and food morsels cover the floor, where the babies cry and shout and the other kids argue, where the window goes out to show the children’s worn socks drying on the fence post. And money is tight and they’re always low on clothes and backpacks, on toys and meat and sugar. And radiation levels in that village, they’re high, and babies are born with defects and illnesses, and countless families suffer pain and loss and sickness as they struggle to make a living.
But the people have somewhere to come. They come to that house. And because Jesus lives among that family of ten, there is refuge and there is hope and there is life. They are now the pastor and wife in that village church. And at home, half of that household is now baptized believers. They gather in the evenings to read together and pray, to worship and sing.
The picture of grace that breaks the cycle of sin shines bright. Bright as the hot steppe sun that burns their hands and shoulders as they till the ground.
After hearing her story, I had to agree. In some places, the state and the country and the officials don’t care. They don’t see and they don’t hear and they don’t bother.
But together, we came to a conclusion. There is still Someone who cares about people.
And even if no one else does, He will and He did and He does.
“What is man that you are mindful of him,
and the son of man that you care for him?”
And some days, even the strongest of us need to be reminded of that.