Paradigm Shifts in the Desert

by | Nov 30, 2022 | Missions Articles

orange colored tea in a white cup with greenery and text that reads "how did I live for over 40 years and never know the truth?"


Sitting in the spacious living room on plush, pink cushions with end tables covered in delicious sweets on golden platters, one would not have guessed we sat in the house of a desert nomad. Lydia sat elegantly on the edge of the couch, ready to serve coffee or insist my mom and I eat more sweets. We would not dream of refusing her offers as the gracious host she was. I had experienced this ritual hospitality for over ten years growing up in that part of the world, but tonight was different.

In between sips of cardamom-infused coffee and auburn-colored tea, we read the Word of life from a small book in her language. Lydia read aloud and began asking several questions with genuine earnestness in her countenance. Here she was, desperately seeking truth. At the ripe age of 25, I had spent 12 years in this country, never having met someone in search of truth – until I met Lydia. Years of doubt melted away as I witnessed Lydia encounter her maker through those brilliant pages.

Time passed, and once again, we were swapping teas and treats. Lydia recounted this story as we sipped.

“I was awakened from a deep sleep one night by an unseen force that was gripping my throat and choking me. Before I knew what I was saying, these words came out – my Lord Jesus!”

Tears came to her eyes as she continued, “I may have thought these words before, but never would I have consciously uttered them from my lips. Yet as soon as they came out, the evil force left, and a sweet presence filled the room.” She told us this story with awe and fear. It was a holy moment because we all knew that if she chose to accept the Truth of what just transpired, it would forever change her life. That day as we ended with a simple song in her language, a great sweetness arose with each note as tears of joy formed in my eyes.

Lydia continued to wrestle with questions and doubts about what and who this Truth was. My mom invited her to meet with one of our sisters who also speaks Lydia’s language. We sat together in a private cubicle at a French restaurant. Once again, though we were not at her house, Lydia served us with elegance – the cardamom-infused coffee, the fancy sweets, and the auburn-colored tea. Once again, we discussed who was Truth and what did His word say. Yet on this night, everything was different. Instead of debating every answer our sister gave, Lydia let the Truth sink in.

She nodded, taking everything in with her penetrating, deep brown eyes. “How did I live for over 40 years and never know the Truth? How have my husband, family, neighbors, and friends never encountered the Truth? How will I tell them?” It was a sobering moment because we all knew that telling them could inevitably cost her life.

What would you tell someone in Lydia’s position? All the nice platitudes and helpful scripture verses fall to the wayside in the light of such an intense cost for her simple expression of faith. At that moment, I realized that I, Joanna Yoder, had nothing to offer. I couldn’t answer her questions. I couldn’t give her a guarantee that everything will end up the way she hopes. I couldn’t say I understood how she felt because I’d never been faced with a decision like that! Yet as those doubts came rushing in, it was increasingly evident that our Comforter and Friend was so close in the room.

We ended that time together by joining Lydia in prayer for her family. My heart broke with her for her children, her husband, and her relatives who do not yet know the Truth.

I do not know exactly why the Lord gave me this opportunity to witness this precious woman go from seeking the Truth to believing it. What I do know is this: the Lord is working in her country, and she is not the only one seeking answers. He has convicted my heart with His love for these people. How will they know unless they hear? And how will they hear unless the Word is spoken to them? And how will the Word be spoken to them unless we, as His children go, and demonstrate the Truth of His Word through our lives?

As you seek truth, lean into the small voice of the comforter as he shares wisdom and guidance for this life. Be bold and share the Truth you’ve encountered.

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