How a “Listening Ear- Equipped a Persecuted Christian
Have you ever been in the midst of a difficult situation, looking for a friend to let you “vent” and then were disappointed when they immediately gave unsolicited advice? At that moment, you were looking for a friend who would just listen, but your friend was looking to “fix” the situation, just like Job’s friends in the Bible. It has been almost six months since Hellen lost her husband, leaving her to raise her three sons on her own. Hellen’s husband Abdi Welli was a passionate missionary to unreached people in Kenya. Adbi’s life came to an abrupt end when he was gunned down in broad daylight in Northeastern Kenya. His friend and pastor, Ibrahim Makunyi, was injured in the attack. After a loss such as Hellen’s, there is never a simple answer to the question, ‘How are you?’ A truly interested friend needs to offer time to simply listen as she pours out her heart. Sometimes there are moments of profound faith. Often, there are moments of profound confusion. Some of our field workers had the opportunity to sit with Hellen and listen to her. She shared about her how she and her husband were initially ministering to unreached people groups in another African nation, but felt a calling to return to their native Kenya to share the gospel with the unreached people there. “As soon as we arrived we started facing persecution,” she shared. “One time we had to sleep at the local police station when a mob threatened to burn the house we lived in. But with the boldness of God we resolved to stay. Abdi was not only a man with deep passion to reach his own people, he was also a courageous Christian who would boldly enter church on Sundays to worship even as locals gathered nearby to hurl stones at him and insult him. He would say that he is not ashamed to be associated with Jesus Christ or with his followers,” she said. “I am comforted in knowing that Abdi had a very real encounter with Christ and that he vowed to never return to his former ways. I am also comforted in knowing that the Bible says in Mathew 22:22-32, ‘God is not the God of the dead but of the living’. Abdi is not dead, he is with Christ.” Although she finds comfort and strength in Abdi’s example, Hellen also candidly told our field workers about her confusions. As she keeps going back and forth in her mind, trying to make sense out of the murder, the countless ‘whys’ persist. “I did not expect that this was the way things would work out. Why did God allow them to shoot him?” In addition to this, Hellen knows she needs a great deal of grace as she deals with Abdi’s extended family members (who are Muslim). In this culture, extended family structures are very important. When Abdi became a Christian, it complicated these relationships tremendously. She continues to be concerned over the safety of the children and family property. It is customary for Muslim family members to claim these upon the death of the husband. In addition to our field workers ministering to Hellen, we are also asking Christians around the world to send Hellen letters of encouragement. This is a powerful way of letting Hellen know that her brothers and sisters around the world have listened to her story and are praying for her. For more information on writing to Hellen, go to: http://www.opendoorsusa.org/take-action/write/Kenya-Hellen-Welli-three-sons.