An SP staff member in a Muslim context celebrates the hope that is seen every day.
Our work often seems like two steps forward, one step back (or sometimes, two steps back). The past month has reminded us of how fragile it all is. One day we’re excited by a great conversation or by seeing local leaders step up, the next day, the same leader is saying he is going to move away. One day our new brother is experiencing reconciliation with his family, the next day he is discouraged and scared. Life is fragile, but we can cling to the hope that God is in it all.
If there is one thing we want to see the most in our work, it is more hope in people's lives. But it also seems the hardest. But however small, we rejoice at the small signs of hope that we see. We want to share with you a couple of them. One of our English students has begun writing short stories in (broken) English, often using imagery of seeds, plants, and nature and displaying a level of creativity, expression, and hope we have seen very little of in others. Traumatic experiences in his war-torn country also have a place to be shared in a productive way. We have started to create periodic newsletters to encourage more imagination and creativity, and he has stepped up in encouraging others in this endeavor. A couple months ago, I had a conversation with a woman in my Level 1 English class. We have found that our lower-level students don’t often strike us as “people of hope,” are often there to just learn English, and tend to be less committed than upper-level students, but this particular woman stood out. I can’t put my finger on exactly why, but she has a positive attitude and servant heart, and something drew me to her. I decided to have a “positive deviance” conversation with her, which is a tool our team uses to identify and encourage someone who deviates from the social norms in a positive way.
“You seem different in such-and-such a way. Where does that come from? How can you build on that? How can you use that for the community?”
The conversation got cut off, and we talked through a couple ideas she had for the community but nothing earth-shattering. Then, over a month later, out of the blue, she said to me, “I didn’t understand what you were getting at that day or why you wanted to talk to me, but I left feeling happy and at peace.”