How God opened a gate

In the corner of the carpark at my Middle Eastern home, is another house. I know my neighbours there, just a little. We say “Salaam” or “Hi” if we are coming or going at the same time. And I do know that the husband of this young couple is the coach of the only rugby team in this distant country! (As soon as he knew I was a Kiwi, this was proudly pointed out.)

Then one day he invited me to join them for afternoon tea, saying, “I hope you will come; my mother will be there too.”
Now, from my very first day of living in this country as an SIM worker, I grew used to God introducing me to people all over the place — divine appointments that led to further contacts. But what he had in store this day was up a notch or two.
In this community there’s a high, locked gate and I had never known that inside hides a social welfare home for girls kept out of sight for their own protection — most of the cases were teenagers who had been abused by men in their family. Sometimes court cases were pending; in others the guilty males had been charged and punished; in still others nothing had resulted — a messy clash of traditional and contemporary expectations, and the abused girls were the ones locked away.

At my neighbour’s afternoon tea I met his mother, who was describing her job as a carer; you guessed it, at this girls’ home. Turns out she was one of two Christian women on staff, the rest were Muslim social work graduates, a cook and a cleaner.
When she heard that I took art classes she said, “We need you! Can you come and I’ll introduce you to the director?” She explained that while she helped the girls with embroidery and crafts, she was desperate to have more creative projects to open conversations with these bored and usually hurting teenagers.
Soon I, a foreigner, was invited for a morning each week behind the secure gate. It wasn’t long before not only most of the girls, but also their Muslim carers trusted me to come alongside offering projects that engaged them. You had to be in this culture to know what a privilege this was.
Fast forward a few months and the Social Welfare Department of the government had asked me to run similar projects in their other welfare homes in this city.
God opens gates. But you have to be there. Unless you have taken your skills to places where the gates are, and seen God’s invitation behind the people he brings across your path, it won’t be something you will experience.
— Polly*


  • for our partners who may be waiting for a break-through, or to see God’s invitation behind certain people he has placed in their path.
  • for people at home to see in their skills a possible way forward into mission