Contributed by Tansy Kadoe
How do we walk in the shoes of those with whom we minimally share common life experiences? How many of us have had our villages burned, our livelihood robbed, or our lives threatened? How many of us managed to escape those nightmares to eventually re-settle in a foreign land where everything is different— language, food, culture, attire, life style…?
A good way to take a peek into the lives of the Karen refugee women is to meditate on their prayers. It is like reading David’s psalms and getting a glimpse into his heart.
While studying the book of Nehemiah in the weekly women’s Bible study held at Arizona Karen Baptist Church, the ladies took on a group assignment of writing a prayer in the format of the prayer stated in Nehemiah 9, in remembrance of their plight and God’s mercy. (Words from Scripture in italics.)
“Blessed be Your glorious name! You are the God that granted favor to our ancestors. They were honest, loving, and above all, they sought You. You promised them the Book of Life. You kept Your promise and sent Adoniram and Ann Judson to deliver this precious Book to us. We were the first to embrace the Good News of Your grace. Your Book of Life is a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night for us.
“But we became arrogant and stiff-necked. We sinned by worshiping idols, committing violence, coveting dishonest wealth, and defiling our bodies. Our sins separated us from You; we were given into the hands of the enemies. We faced crushing oppression; constant fear made us flee in desperation; illnesses and starvation compounded the wretchedness. Our hearts shattered as we watched the untimely death of our loved ones and young children.
“We cried out to You for You are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, and abounding in love. Therefore You did not desert us. You heard us from heaven and delivered us to refugee camps, where we were cared for and fed. You then brought us to the Land of Milk and Honey, America. Our children can go to school. We are employed. We worship You in freedom. We eat to the full and are well-nourished; we revel in Your great goodness.
“But Lord, rebellion rises against You, although Your Spirit warns us. We hold a false sense of security in materials. We no longer come before You in truth and spirit. Sufficiency has bred indifference. Some were led astray to false gods and they abandoned their faith in You. We do not teach our children Your word, making them susceptible to ungodly influences. As we watch them poorly adjusting to the new environment by making bad decisions, we shed tears. Depression leads our husbands to drinking, and sometimes to prison. Once again, we are in great distress. Father God, please do not let all this hardship seem trifling in Your eyes. Our hope is in You alone. We promise to love You and draw near You. Please rescue us for You are a gracious and merciful God.”
What better way to walk in the shoes of refugee women than by joining them in prayers?
Tansy Kadoe is a member of Arizona Karen Baptist Church in Phoenix, Arizona, and she leads the women’s Bible study at her church.