Some things are very different in different countries. Cultural differences and physical differences can divide people, it's difficult to connect to things you don't understand. In Africa, time is a whole different concept. Setting a time for a meeting is more of a suggestion than a definite. In Brazil, lunch is the big meal of the day, followed by a siesta when the heat of the day makes most things unbearable. The pace of life is slower and if you are from North America it can sometimes be extremely difficult to shift gears and flow with that rhythm.
But there are some things that transcend culture. A mother's love is one of them. I wrote a couple weeks ago about the tragic death of one of the youth's mothers in Maraba. At that time all we knew was that she had been shot. The full story has now come out. Zeyzem's brother was involved in a gang, as I have mentioned before this is a common pattern for youth in this neighbourhood. He was also prone to dangerous and violent fits of rage, so much so that his girlfriend and child left the home. His mother prayed ceaselessly that he would be delivered from the bondage of this gang. On the sunday evening before his mothers death, Zeyzem's brother came to the front of the church and surrendered his life to Jesus, asking forgiveness and promising to turn away from his former life. His mother's prayers were answered. I have said before, God forgives gangs don't. Leaving a gang is not something you can do easily. The gang came for Zeyzem's brother but as they entered the house and aimed their gun to shoot, Zeyzem's mother put herself between the killer and her son, taking five bullets into her own body and giving her life for the life of her son.
Sandy Thiessen was diagnosed with terminal cancer two weeks ago. Her family gathered around her to spend as many of the last moments of her life that they could, their hearts in agony at the thought of life without her. A few days after her diagnosis results of a liver biopsy showed that the cancer was treatable. This news came on the heels of a horrendous night of pain that couldn't be quieted by medication. Sandy had a choice to make. Would she fight for her life or accept death? She turned the question to her children. What did they want? Despite the intense pain and illness she was living with at that moment when her children looked at her and asked her to fight she said 'Yes, I will'.
Two mothers, one chose death for the life of her child and one chose life for the love of her children.
Sometimes it's easy to put to the back of our minds the suffering and challenges that people face in other countries. They live different lives, it's hard to connect. But the bottom line is that we are all people with hopes and dreams, and the need for love and acceptance. Our houses, clothing and daily lives may look very different but our hearts are the same.