26 January 2013

A Tale of Three Women


While in Israel, we had the privilege of meeting with some beautiful, courageous women.  You probably wont find them on the cover of a magazine, or read of their exploits in newspaper headlines, but these three Israeli believers are beautiful and courageous nonetheless.  We were touched by their stories and asked if we could share them with you so you could pray for them.  They said yes…

Yohana* is the mother of three lovely children, and wife to an emotionally abusive husband.  She is a gentle and kind believer, working part time for a local congregation.  She knows the members by name, being sure to send a card with words of encouragement to each of them on their birthdays.  Everything she does is with a servant heart, a desire to help and encourage everyone she comes into contact with.  Sometimes Yohana finds herself more than discouraged by her situation at home.  She makes every effort to model her faith to her children and train them in Godly living, yet she finds herself thwarted and undermined by their father at every turn.   “The place I most lose my testimony is at home with my husband’, she confessed, frustrated by her inability to maintain what she considers to be a Godly attitude within her circumstances.

Yohana has seen God bring healing to her marriage in years past.  She desires deeply that her husband will return again to his faith and that their children too will have a love for and relationship with Yeshua.  While she is praying and contending for her miracle, she continues to be the strong, kind, woman of encouragement, who takes every opportunity to serve, and every opportunity to be a shining example of what the love of God looks like when modeled by a woman of faith.

Naomi* is a single mother of a teenage son, Ben*.  Naomi’s husband was physically abusive to her and their son, before their marriage finally ended some years back.  She too has kind, servant heart, and works for a local city ministry.  Naomi suffered much heart ache as she watched Ben grow up into a depressed young man with little motivation for life.  Out of desperation, Naomi determined to find a way to help him.  She knew he had become reclusive and detached, sitting at home every night on his computer, refusing to interact with her or his own friends, and how detrimental and destructive these patterns had become, so when she heard of a boarding school that had a reputation for helping struggling young people like Ben, she took a financial leap of faith and enrolled him for his final few years of schooling.  “At first it was not easy.  Ben was angry with me for ‘sending him away’.  I had to drive him many miles to the school each week to make sure he went and pick him up each weekend to spend at home.  But now, after two years, Ben is not the same person he used to be.  Before, he didn’t care about anything.  Now he is doing well academically and getting good grades.  He even takes the bus to the school each week by himself and when he is home, spends time with his friends, going out and being a normal young person again.  He is so much happier in himself!”

Seeing the change in her son, has given Naomi the faith to believe God can work miracles in her own situation.  The apartment she rents is run down and she has a desire to move to a better area of the country, but she knows she needs a financial miracle for this to happen.  Today, because of the work God has done in her son, Naomi has hope for some miracles of her own!

Ruth*moved to Israel to work many years ago.  She met a believing Israeli man, fell in love, married and started a new life with her ‘Boaz’*, both working with an organisation run by Israeli believers.  They could have lived ‘happily ever after’, but sadly this was not the case.  Ruth’s husband walked away from his faith, and was eventually incarcerated for mistakes he made, and life seemed to turn over on its head.  Ruth’s faith held strong.  She continued to serve and help the poor, sharing the love of Yeshua and praying for those in need that came across her doorway.  When Boaz returned home, he was not the same man, being heavily medicated due to depression and guilt over his crimes.  At times he was even suicidal, and Ruth shed many tears and solicited many prayers for husband, believing God for a miracle for their relationship, and frequently challenging Boaz to return to his faith in Yeshua.  Finally, out of desperation, Ruth came to the end of her strength and became angry with God, asking why she did not have an answer when the bible said God will answer when we call.  “My life did not line up with what God had promised.  I felt like I too was now living in a prison, suffering the same fate with no hope for the future.”

Then a miracle happened on Rosh HaShana, the Jewish new year.  Boaz got up that morning and said it was time for him to come back to God!  He started praying and reading his bible again.  He repented for his mistakes and began to change.  Instead of shouting at her when she talked to him, he began to take care of her, offering to make tea and even gave her an encouraging scripture when she became discouraged.  One day, Boaz had a meeting with the bank manager about an overdraft they couldn’t pay.  Before he went to the meeting, the couple prayed together for God’s help.  When he got the bank, the manager said there is no overdraft for you to worry about.  It has been paid already!  Ruth and Boaz were incredulous, “No one has our bank account number so how could anyone have done this?  We know it was God!”

Ruth’s determination to hold onto God’s promises for 9 years has brought about amazing miracles in her husband and their financial situation.  They still need miracles – the finances to move out of the apartment they rent into a safer area, healing for Boaz as he continues the process of restoration, but as Ruth said, “If God can do this, He can do anything!”

As we sat and shared over lunch, it was evident that these three women had forged a deep friendship and prayer partnership between them.  A common bond of perseverance through tough times had brought them together, even though each of their situations was quite different to the other.  And above all, their commitment to their faith in Yeshua (Jesus) shone through with a determination that no amount of opposition would cause them to give up.

Women praying at the Wailing Wall, Jerusalem
Please pray for Yohana, Naomi, and Ruth.  Yohana needs a miracle in her marriage and desires that her husband will return to faith in Yeshua.  Naomi needs a financial miracle to bring a much needed change in her accommodation and living situation, and encouragement for her heart.  Ruth has seen God’s miracles and needs them to continue as her marriage heals, and desires that there is full and permanent restoration for her husband.
*Names changed