Lilly* and her husband serve in South Asia, where her husband runs an IT business. MDE has the privilege of serving and supporting them as they make money and make disciples.
Our family moved to South Asia in late January 2020. A month after settling into our apartment, the country went on COVID-19 lockdown.
Everything Put on Hold
With limited language, we had been intentionally building relationships with our neighbors. I had been visiting a park, joining other moms and their young children. The shared experience of motherhood creates an atmosphere of empathy, despite cultural differences. With the lockdown, those relationships would have to wait.
We joined the South Asian community in celebrating their many holidays. One day we even delivered holiday treats door-to-door which amazed our neighbors, and their amazement confused us. Later, we found out we had the wrong day for the holiday—but at least our actions were memorable and from the heart!
With another neighbor, I shared baked goods, and she thanked me with a food gift. It was my turn to reciprocate, but that too would have to wait. Her empty plate remained in my home for ten weeks.
During lockdown, there was only the oppressive silence of four walls and the stress of entertaining two rambunctious young sons. Would the new relationships with our neighbors withstand the test of a lockdown?
An Unexpected Gift
On the day the lockdown lifted, I was at my neighbor’s door to return her plate and bring a gift of American banana bread. She invited me in, and we talked about the health of our families and what had transpired in the neighborhood. One of the benefits of the lockdown was increased language comprehension and speaking ability.
She informed me that a huge beehive had fallen from a fifth-floor balcony and advised me to return to my apartment and close all the doors and windows. I followed her recommendation, and sternly told my sons to keep the screens closed because the homeless bees would be looking for a new place to build their hive.
Shortly afterward, a knock at the apartment door surprised me. A teenager I had never seen before spoke excitedly: “A beehive fell from the fifth floor. We are selling honey.” I was startled, and it took me a moment to make sense of the invitation. Geeta, our neighbor across the hall, leaned her head out the door and repeated the news.
The teenage opportunist affirmed the honey was very pure, very local, and undiluted (yes, that is a thing here). All I needed to do was follow them and bring a container. “How much?” I asked. 400 rupees a kilogram. Caught up in the excitement but hampered by the children at my feet, I grabbed my best gallon-sized cooking pot and handed it to the teenager who rushed off down the hall. My wide-eyed 4-year old put on his shoes, and I scooped up the 2-year old to follow the young man. The din of voices rose in volume as we got closer.
Containers and a scale were set up on the floor outside apartment 806. My cooking pot was already on the scale. “How much, lady? Two kilograms? It’s a very nice pot. It can hold more.” Both the elderly matriarch of 806 and Geeta interrupted him to make sure I got a good deal. “Four hundred rupees? You can’t charge this woman 400 rupees! Make it 300.”
We knew Geeta, but the matriarch of 806 had been aloof up until this point. I intentionally opened a conversation:
“This honey is from the fifth floor?”
“It is very pure, isn’t it?”
“Oh yes, yes.”
Over the next couple of days, the excitement gradually faded and I began to process all the things this shared experience gave us. It was an unusual experience to be so supported, even protected, by our neighbors. I saw how our vulnerability opened the door for others to initiate relationship.
The quantity of honey we received was enough to share with our house helpers, who are of a lower caste. Pure, local, undiluted honey crossed the caste barrier when our previous efforts had fallen short.
This situation created a spontaneous way of breaking through the walls of awkwardness that the lockdown had created. What an unexpected gift!
God works in the unexpected: fallen honeycombs, unwieldy viruses, new languages, and shared holidays. Through God’s design, Lily’s family is a witness in their unreached community. Through them, God displays His heart that all people would come to repentance.
This is what making money and making disciples looks like.
*Name changed for privacy.
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.Acts 1:8