It advertises an organization for youth of a particular Indonesian ethnic group.
Yes, it’s new, the two men inside tell me after I timidly fill the hole of the door, calling out to them several times, each time my voice getting slightly louder until they notice me.
The organization has been around for three years, but this new presence, in this building, with its new sign—all new.
I’m surprised and I’m not. I’d walked past this building three years ago, following the lifeless body of my sweet friend. Sobbing, I knew she was lost forever. The funeral procession carried her high in the grave clothes that her family had sewn that day, while tears wetted the material, wails providing the music to their rhythm of in-and-out with the needle. Past the building, the body floated on strong arms, then to the mosque for desperate prayers. Lastly, to the hole on a hill littered with other attempts by man to honor their dead. My son, stirring inside of me, his life in the outside world not yet begun, as my thoughts focused on life ending.
More recently, my friends and I had walked past this building, praying hopeful wishes of lasting peace, obeying God’s call to simply pray through this neighborhood of an ethnic group haunted by recent turmoil. Just months ago, men with machetes poured out of the neighborhood to fight with another ethnic group in this town.
The signs of the battle had melted into the dilapidated background of poverty, as we began our prayer journey for peace. My friends and I looked a bit like a circus, our white skin gleaming and shimmering in the hot sun, sometimes with a trail of children—our own mixed with some of theirs—following along. We smiled and answered the myriad calls to us, while we answered His call.
We used our own language and spoke the thoughts we believed God had put in our hearts. In my rare, braver moments, I believed, hoping that my friend’s family would be among the first of many to know a peace that never ends. But usually, I struggled with doubts, timidly calling out my prayer for impossible things, over and over until I hoped my voice would be heard.
We’d prayed for a place and avenue to help people—perhaps a community building. Some place we could set up shop, invite people in, and show them God’s heart while teaching them English, or helping them make sell-able crafts, or meeting some other tangible need.
I told the two men about my love for his people, about my talented teacher friends who also care. They interrupted me before I could finish my flustering speech in their language.
Would I like to use their building? One of the men asked. One of our goals is to offer English in this neighborhood, he continued.
Just weeks after I walked past this concrete house, praying, wishing, hoping, they were inviting me to do the work that God had whispered from His heart.
Yes, I said, with my quiet, timid voice while my heart screamed it.
Their sign was one of several other figurative signs that God is ready to pour out his love and peace here. Men of God who had been praying for people ready to love. Other teammates with ideas about how to serve. A visitor with a perfect piece to the puzzle, meant for another project, but fitting perfect with ours.
They were signs that perhaps I hadn’t heard crazy voices in my head, but had heard the voice of God. That He was ready. That He knew they were ready. And I was ready, too, to witness the miracle of God raising the dead and restoring peace at last. Yes, my heart screamed, I’m ready.