Gospel for Asia (http://www.gfa.org/) News Release – For Immediate Release
WILLS POINT, TX (ANS – December 27, 2017) — White, uncombed hair crowned 125-year-old Rayna’s head. There on the floor, the widow sat unable to walk without a helping hand. Her wrinkled and swollen face showed years of discouragement. The torn and shabby clothes she wore testified of the poverty and hardship she had endured in her long life.
A Life of Hardship
Rayna was born in a tiny village to a farming family. Her parents were much too poor to send her to school in those days, so little Rayna grew up and lived her entire life illiterate. Eventually, Rayna married and raised a family. She and her husband were blessed with four children: two boys and two girls.
As the years went by, her children married and life carried on. But when her husband and two sons died due to illness, life grew more difficult. Her daughter and son-in-law took Rayna into their small home to care for her—but life didn’t get any easier from then on. Rayna’s son-in-law died too, and now the two women had to look after themselves.
They were poor, and they had to do without many necessities. Rayna, now much too old to work, had to be cared for, and her widowed daughter had to find daily labor work to keep the family afloat.
Giving Rayna What Her Heart Longed For
Rayna wrapped herself in a torn and thin blanket night after night, but she couldn’t sleep peacefully in the cold weather. The two widows didn’t have the luxury of warm clothing to ease the stinging cold of the night air. When Rayna would wake in the mornings, she was too worn out to do much else but sit on the hard floor of her mud house. She often spent the whole day all to herself until the unexpected visit of two strangers.
With her faint eyesight, Rayna could barely discern the figures of two young women dressed in white and gray as they approached her little hut. In all the years she had lived in her village, she had never seen them before.
“Who are you? And where did you come from?” she managed to ask.
“We have come here to serve the elderly people, widows and needy people,” the young women, named Valini and Salila, explained.
Overcome with emotion in response to these loving words, tears streamed down Rayna’s aged face as she showed them a cultural sign of respect by touching their feet.
“Amma [mother], you do not need to touch our feet,” the women implored. “Rather we need to touch your feet.”
Stooping down, Valini and Salila sat next to Rayna and listened as she poured out her heart, sharing her family’s struggles. The elderly widow was so happy to have the company of these two GFA-supported women missionaries, and she asked them to come again to see her. With love and concern, Valini and Salila visited her twice a week and prayed for her each time. God even brought healing to Rayna’s swollen face through the prayers of the sisters. Rayna was so thankful to the Lord, and she began to attend prayer meetings with her daughter and one of her grandsons.
Missionaries Meet and Immediate Need
As the Sisters of Compassion made their weekly visits with Rayna, they quickly noticed her torn, smelly blanket. They watched as Rayna’s daughter worked hard each day, and they marveled how they stayed alive on her meager income. Valini and Salila realized the family couldn’t even afford a new blanket, because they used all their income on their survival needs for the day.
Valini and Salila wanted to help, so they requested Rayna to be a recipient of a blanket during a GFA-supported Christmas gift distribution planned for the poor villagers in their area.
With Valini and Salila to guide her, Rayna made her way into the village where the distribution was held. Rayna saw a thick, purple, pink and green blanket in the hands of a pastor. Then, it was wrapped around her frail shoulders. It was soft and warm—no more stench or holes, but instead, a tight weave to shield her from the weather.
“During night time, I feel cold because there were no warm clothes in my house, and I struggled a lot,” Rayna said. “I could not afford to buy a blanket to protect me. But thank you very much for giving this blanket.”
Blanket Provides Warmth, Encouragement
Rayna’s beautiful gift not only sheltered her, but it was big enough to share with her grandsons at night. When darkness fell, Rayna could fall asleep peacefully under her soft cover. When she visited with the elderly ladies in her village, all wrapped up in her floral blanket, she would happily tell them about how she received it.
Rayna’s gift impacted her life. Through the love and concern of Christ shown by two women missionaries, Rayna, who was once lonely and cold, knew she was cared for and not alone. And though she is now no longer on earth, the Lord enabled these sisters to honor Rayna with love and make her last days comfortable and joyful.
A Blanket Can Bring Much More Than Comfort
Just like Rayna was in need of a quality blanket during the winter season, there are still many families in poverty who would be blessed with a blanket of their own. This Christmas, as you gather together with family and friends in your warm homes, would you consider giving someone in Asia warmth and a chance to know they are deeply loved by God?
You can give a blanket today, by going to: https://www.gfa.org/gift/browse/gifts-for-the-poor/#product-blankets
Note: Gospel for Asia (http://www.gfa.org/) has – for more than 30 years — provided humanitarian assistance and spiritual hope to millions across Asia, especially among those who have yet to hear the Good News. Last year, this included more than 75,000 sponsored children, free medical services for more than 180,000 people, 6,000 wells drilled, 11,000 water filters installed, Christmas presents for more than 400,000 needy families, and spiritual teaching available in 110 languages in 14 nations through radio ministry.
Photo captions: 1) Rayna (pictured) lived to be 125 years old. Her life was not easy, but in her last days she learned Jesus loved and cared for her. (GFA). 2) This is Salila (left) and Valini (right). They serve as Sisters of Compassion, specialized women missionaries to help the poor, needy and the widows. God used their lives to help show Rayna she was not forgotten by God. (GFA). 3) Rayna was so happy to receive this thick blanket at a GFA-supported Christmas gift distribution. It replaced her old, tattered one she had been using for years. (GFA). 4) Rayna could sleep peacefully each night after she received the blanket. She even visited her friends in the village with the blanket around her shoulders, and she was sure to tell everyone where she got her gift. (GFA).
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