A couple of weeks ago I went with my friend, Pat, to visit a Somali family on the west side of Columbus. That visit was different from anything I had experienced at Capital Park through Commissioned. The apartments were noticeably nicer, but drug dealing and violence was much more rampant. Further, I've mostly interacted with the kids and haven't spent too much time with adults.
Pat introduced me to a short Bantu woman named Hawa. At 21, a little older than me, she stood below my shoulders. She wobbled around the apartment, trying to maintain her balance with a child in her womb that was due any day. That day, Pat and I assumed the roles of social workers. I helped her husband with employment applications and called the clinics to verify Hawa's pregnancy checkups. Pat called the Franklin Family Service department for food stamps and asked the electric company to mercifully wait until the family received their welfare check before cutting off their power. The whole day proved to be stressful, but it was really eye-opening to see how Somalis like this family lived on a daily basis.
Yesterday wasn't so stressful, but it was fascinating learning more about their daily life. Mohammad, Hawa's husband, kept disappearing for days on end and refused to attend to the needs of Hawa and their two daughters. Hawa's girl friend just received another wife in the house, and she left her husband because she hated living with another woman. Another woman in the community stabbed a girlfriend her husband brought home one day, and a 19 year old boy was shot in the stomach and died due to conflict in the drug ring.
Last time I was visiting, Hawa told me how afraid for her safety, health, and financial problems. Tears began to well up in her large, dark eyes. Before I even knew what I was saying, I impulsively said, "Let's pray." I was rather shocked at my own boldness. What would this Somali woman, a Muslim, say to this? To my astonishment, Hawa simply agreed. As she closed her eyes and grabbed my hand, I just stared at her in disbelief. I think I was more surprised by what I had just said than she was.
People just like Hawa are in desperate of hope. This made me realize how I've been trained to mask my belief in Christ so as not to offend anyone. Not just with Muslims or people of different faiths, but with non-Christians in general. Why have we bought into this lie that we're suppose to shield and withhold our beliefs from other people? Paul writes in Romans that God is a God of hope, and hope does not disappoint us (5:5, 15:13). We have the Hope, so why hide it from people who desperately need it?