Finn and the cow
I was so grateful that God called me to Central Asia. They seemed warm and friendly, and though Muslim, didn't seem like the “scary” type who live in places like Afghanistan, Iran or Iraq. I've always been a bit fearful of Middle Eastern people. It’s the kind of prejudice you don't confess, especially as a missionary called to share Christ's love!
Then, the unthinkable happened. We moved into our new home and discovered that our neighbours were from Afghanistan.
And then they got a cow. The thing would give me a huge fright every time it bellowed. My six-year-old son’s bedroom window overlooked their garden and so he, Finn, would spend hours leaning out and mooing to the cow. The cow would always moo back, delighting Finn for hours. He began to call the cow his friend.
But the day of sacrifice came and Finn's friend wasn't spared. The bellowing was deafening as the poor cow was slaughtered and cut up in the back yard. We tried to protect the kids and kept them out until after dark so they wouldn’t see the entrails lying across the neighbour's grass.
After the sacrifice, relatives began streaming into our neighbour’s house – lots of Middle Eastern men made me feel fearful and stressed.
At this time, one of the neighbours' daughters came across with a huge plate of plov, a delicious dish of rice and meat. The young girl could speak some English, and she explained that there had been a death in the family and that the food was for me and my children. I couldn't hide the plate fast enough from Finn. He peaked over the rim of the plate, and when he saw the meat, he cried out, "My friend!" Tears rolled down his checks.
There followed some real soul searching on my part. I felt it was too much for me. It was hard enough loving the Central Asian people and trying to learn their language, but to love Afghans too? As I read through Psalm 119, verse 32 stood out: “I will run in the way of your commandments when you enlarge my heart!” (ESV).
I found my prayer: Enlarge my heart, help me to love these people, and help me to show them Your love.
Later, Finn called me to stand at his window to show me what was left of his friend – one big half leg and hoof lying on the grass. It still makes him sad, and so it makes me sad too. Lord, enlarge my heart.
A few days later, the grieving widow called me to her house to have tea with her. In her few words of English, and using her daughter-in-law as a translator, she told me of her husband’s death and how her heart was broken. I saw a lady longing for comfort and healing, and I wept with her. The Lord was enlarging my heart.