Paul and Ruth are ordinary New Zealand Baptists who took a risk and obeyed God by going overseas and helping a tranzsend business. Their home church is Remuera Baptist in Auckland.
Heading off to a South Asian city to support a couple running a small Christian business in the heart of a red light district is not something we ever expected to be doing. But that’s what we did!
Last year we felt the challenge to step out with a new level of faith in God by being available for mission work overseas. It was a new venture for us as a couple. We were simply asking, “Are there other ways we can serve you God?” and then went about looking for ways to make this desire a reality.
We spoke with Neil Perry at tranzsend. He considered our skills and background and presented us with some options, (including other mission groups). Doors seemed to fly open. There was a match for our skills and within three weeks it was arranged.
Not long after we were in the small South Asian business where women are employed, enabling them to avoid being imprisoned by the sex trade and allow them to support their families. The women are trained in making notebooks, cards, electronic equipment and water filters for export.
It was a joy but not always easy. The city presented us with many challenges: noise, pollution, congestion, heat, street hawkers and traffic every which way – on foot and wheels, cars, trams, buses, trucks, rickshaws and auto rickshaws.
What constantly shone through though was a rich and different culture, a very relational culture. Even shopping in the market became a time of getting to know the local sellers and appreciating their help.
“This fruit is the best one Aunty,” the sellers would call out as they give cups of hot tea to faithful customers. We attempted to use what language we could learn and were rewarded with encouragement to keep going. We learnt also that language and communicating is not just verbal; actions, smiles and prayers also make an impact.
In the workplace, Paul helped with the accounts and Ruth worked with the women helping coordinate production. It was rewarding to share God’s word and our faith with the workers each morning (with the help of a translator). Seeking God for what he wanted to say was a privilege as we often found we had the same “theme.” Each day began and ended with prayers by staff, while weekly we would worship together.
Many of the women at the business love Jesus but they are under strong pressure from their community. Often their families worship many gods, gods and evil spirits whom they fear. Some also struggle with personal difficulties including violence, poor living conditions and poverty. It was humbling to work alongside them and share the love we found God placing in our hearts. We felt how much He cared for this city with its poor, spiritually lost.
We feel that we gained more than we gave. We now pray often for the women and our heart goes out to them and the staff there. We are thankful for the prayers and encouragement we experienced from people back home. We sensed the Holy Spirit in our midst.
During our last week one of the women told us they desired strongly for us to come back again. We were deeply moved. We know that during our time there God’s love has become more real to them, and also to us. Like the clay in the potter’s hands, it was good to be moulded and used for his purposes!