It’s 9:59 p.m., and I’m still in the kitchen, washing baby bottles. I have just cleaned up dinner and packed lunches for the next day after getting my two little ones to bed. A basketful of laundry, needing to be folded, waits for me in the living room.
I look at the clock and sigh. I wish I were already in bed. If my husband were here, I’d already be done, because he would be sharing half the work. But he’s not. He’s in the middle of a two week-trip to the Middle East, where he’s meeting with persecuted Christians and some of our partners who help us meet the needs of suffering believers. He’s not up late cleaning the kitchen, but he’s usually up late on these nights, crying, praying and just listening to people.
Most people assume that his life as an international worker for The Voice of the Martyrs is glamorous, jetting from place to place. He and any of our workers would tell you it’s not. It’s about being perpetually tired, with missed nights of sleep due to travel, then an 8-, 10- or 12-hour time difference adjustment on arrival and having to adjust backwards just after finding your rhythm in the new time when you get home. It’s missed family time, missed milestones in the kids’ lives, having to say no to service opportunities at church knowing you’ll be gone.
But he relishes sitting with people and listening to their stories, working with local believers and helping them think through how VOM can best help them to reach others for Christ. When he gets home and I pick him up from the airport, he often spends the entire hour-long drive sharing the things he’s learned and been challenged by through our brothers and sisters there. And as soon as he gets home, he puts priority on spending time with me and the kids.
As for me and the other wives of our international workers (who all happen to be men right now), sometimes people around the office refer to us as the VOM widows. We go to parties and Bible studies alone. We single parent. We figure out how to fix the water heater when it breaks—or at least figure out who can help us fix it.
I stay up late managing our household, but I can’t really let myself entertain the idea of complaining. I spent the day working on a story about Meriam Ibrahim, a mom of two young children, like me. Except she’s not able to wash her dishes late at night, or anytime, because she’s in prison. Up until the time she gave birth, she was shackled in her prison cell. Can you imagine how good that felt on pregnancy-swollen ankles, while chasing after your toddler? When given the opportunity to get out of prison, she told the judge she could never deny Jesus.
I’m not shackled in some Sudanese prison cell. Nor am I rejected by my family members, like so many of our brothers and sisters who choose to follow Christ. So this is my act of service: to wash bottles late at night, giving thanks that I’m counted worthy to be a daughter of Jesus Christ.
While I wash, I think about the many who are suffering, and I pray for them. I think about the people who my husband is meeting, and I pray for them. And I pray for my kids, hoping that they’ll see the choices of their parents and learn the stories of their persecuted family members far away and that by these examples, they’ll chose to follow the One for whom all these sacrifices, large and small, are worthy.
Dory P. has worked with VOM for seven years. She grew up in Ecuador, met her husband while working with another mission organization, and now lives in Oklahoma. Between Dory, her husband, three-year-old son and infant daughter, the family shares seven passports. Dory helps tell the stories of the persecuted through VOM's newsletter, and her husband serves with VOM's international department.