“I Desire Mercy . . .”


By Anonymous

I stood embracing a man I had known for only minutes. Before this moment, I had been just a voice on the phone and a first name. On that day, however, I became the embodiment of mercy to a man experiencing one of the darkest hours he had ever known.

Less than a week earlier, I had received a call detailing a request. The man had a problem, and I had been referred to him as a possible source of help.

The Alliance has been active for decades in this creative-access country where my wife and I minister. Sadly, after nearly 125 years of Alliance investment, the people here are still very resistant to the gospel; less than 0.2 percent professes belief in Jesus, the one true Savior. Those who do confess Jesus as Lord are considered traitors to their people, ethnic identity, and families by most of society.

The small number of Christians—and the negative view of them held by strict adherents to the majority religion—allows the government to overlook the inconvenient question of “marrying and burying,” since those are religious functions. “New” religions, such as evangelical Christianity, are not particularly welcomed or recognized, so official ethnic/religious leaders steadfastly deny these rites to those they consider traitors.

Children of marriages that cross ethnic—and therefore religious—lines are considered to belong to the perceived ethnic religion of the mother. The children often fall into legal “no man’s land” if the mother isn’t of the majority religion. So what happens when an infant is stillborn and is not a member of a legal majority religion?

Sometimes, the parents call me.

So here I was with a young man weeping because he had no place to inter his first daughter—a stillborn infant. All of the options the couple had found to this point would require the father to deny his own heritage or his Savior in order to bury his child. So there we stood, discussing the possibility of burial in the cemetery that The Alliance had been given more than 100 years earlier. Throughout that time, many had encouraged the mission to sell it due to the high value of the land it occupies in one of the most expensive cities in the world.

Sometimes, the choices we have to make as Alliance workers don’t make sense on the balance sheet, but that day, the fact that the land was still available as a burial place comforted a family in deep pain. Thank you for giving to the Great Commission Fund and sacrificing in the name of mercy so we could keep this sacred land.

“‘Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners’” (Matt. 9:13).

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