A letter from Les Morgan in Bangladesh
March 14, 2011
A Moment of Peace
One of my regular activities as a missionary in Bangladesh is to run a small clinic each week in a poor area near where we live in Dhaka. I set up a table with a few medical supplies, either on the verandah of one of the programs sponsored by the Church of Bangladesh or in the home of someone who wants to host me. The clinics provide me an opportunity to get to know the people in the community and to understand better how the church can assist them.
A few days ago, a Muslim woman named Dipa invited me to run the clinic in her 10x12-foot home in a slum in Pargandaria, across the Buriganga River. With the family bed, dresser, pots and pans, water jugs and other kitchen supplies in the room, there was not much space left for a small table and a place for me to sit. Nevertheless, people crowded in and more hovered at the door, some to be seen as patients and others just to watch. My assistant, Niva, weighed the patients on some bathroom scales we had brought along and then measured the patients’ heights with a tape measure we had taped to the door frame.
Midway through the clinic, a woman squeezed into the room carrying a young boy, whose incessant squirming and whining heightened the tension in the close and noisy quarters. At a glance one could tell he was severely mentally retarded, and he seemed frustrated not being able to express what he needed. Not only could he not speak, but he could not stand on his own. The woman, Khaleda, said he could neither feed nor dress himself; 4-year-old Seeyam required complete and constant care. Khaleda explained that Seeyam was the son of her husband’s second, younger wife. In Islam, men are permitted to have more than one wife.
I took Seeyam in my arms and, laying him in my lap, placed him on his stomach and began to rub his back. He immediately calmed and quieted. Khaleda then told me Seeyam’s mother had deserted the family as soon as she realized his condition. From that moment on, Khaleda had cared for him as her own son. One could tell by Seeyam’s physical health and cleanliness that Khaleda was providing the best she could for him.
The once noisy room was now silent, as everyone listened to Khaleda’s story and watched Seeyam lying peacefully in my lap. Amazed by the way she cared for her stepson, I explained to the group that Khaleda was a channel of blessing to this child who is so loved by God. In this moment of peace, a shared, human understanding resonated in all our hearts, that in Khaleda’s sacrificial love for Seeyam, God was at work. I believe even young Seeyam understands it.
Proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ among Muslims is one of the most urgent missionary tasks of our time, for the language of the gospel is the human language of love, a language all people understand, and it makes for peace. Although the Church faces great challenges in Muslim countries, the moment of peace I shared with Khaleda, Seeyam and the others at my clinic encouraged me not to give up hope.
Dr. Leslie Y. Morgan
Presbyterian Church U.S.A.
Mission Co-Worker / Bangladesh
P.O. Box 4026
Shreveport, LA 71134