The village had been dark and quiet for hours. Then we heard the screams. Mury and his wife were arguing.
To save face, this culture uses quiet, roundabout ways to solve conflict, or they bottle it up. But on the rare occasion when the dam breaks, it’s vicious. Just this week, two big trucks rammed each other at full speed because neither driver would give the right of way on a one-lane bridge.
I have a fairly close relationship with Mury. He helps me work on my vehicle, pulls it out of the mud when I get stuck, and shares mechanical expertise with me. Once he towed my vehicle by rope for an hour to the nearest mechanic. Another time, he installed new shocks for me. Besides me, he is the only one in our neighborhood who knows how to drive a car.
One day when I went over to Mury’s house, he wasn’t feeling well, so his wife was giving him a coin rub, the Cambodian cure-all. This involves vigorously rubbing a coin over the same spot until the skin turns bright red from subcutaneous bleeding. I offered that his wife could take a break, and Mury could come to my house for a massage on our massage table.
Midway through the massage, our conversation turned to spiritual things. I told him how we are all sinners in need of forgiveness. I related how, just the previous night, I needed forgiveness from my wife because I had been critical with her and hurt her feelings. “Sometimes I’ve had to apologize 10 times a day,” I said.
Facedown on the massage table, Mury began opening his heart to me. He told me how his father-in-law was bothered by the long hours Mury spent on his job driving a big truck. He suspected that Mury wasn’t performing his five daily prayers. He had also convinced Mury’s wife that Mury was withholding money from the family and spending it on drugs, which was not true. I don’t know what to believe, but I was encouraged by Mury’s vulnerability and willingness to open up to me.
Mury told me how precious his daughter and son are to him. He described how once he had gotten a call that his baby girl was dying. He left his big truck on the side of the road and took the fastest taxi home. The whole time, he was begging Allah to shorten his life by half if he could trade it for hers. “Life is meaningless until you have children,” he told me. His daughter survived.
Mury is only home every other Saturday, but he comes to church in our living room every time I invite him. Last Sabbath, for the first time, he came on his own. He surprised us by giving a short testimony expressing his gratitude to God that he and his wife are back on good terms again.
The Great River people have missed out on so much, having not grown up in Christian families. Biblical principles of forgiveness, reconciliation, humility and love make life beautiful. I can’t wait for them to experience the joy of life with the Prince of Peace.
Yesterday, Stephanie heard that Mury’s wife was feeling sick, so she treated her with some simple remedies. She also invited her to come to our home for church with Mury. Please pray that a relationship will form. Also, please pray for me as I interact with Mury and the other men around me that my influence would lift them up to God’s open arms.