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Her name was Rose


I seldom look at this photo without tightening in my throat and stirring in my heart.  Simply it is a photo of a tall spindly rose after a rain in our front yard.  Camera angle and cropping emphasizes  the beauty of the flower and not that it is solitary five feet in the air, waving in the breeze about to break its thin stem.

Her name was Rose.  She was truly beautiful.  I met her once, held her hands once, prayed with her once, and three weeks later with a friend, helped pay for her funeral, maybe.

It was a short term mission trip to a distant continent.  To celebrate Mohammed’s birthday there were threatened missile attacks on the company planes we were flying.   We, prayerfully, went anyway.  The national ministry that received us benefited from financial and material support from the congregation backing this team.  I was blessed to be part of this group of friends.  We worked hard.  I split from the team to lead a pastors conference that final weekend.  The pressure to give more material, more money was getting offensive.  Too few at the top of that organization were living well.  On that last Saturday during a midday break, I was asked to go to a nearby home.  The financial officer for the ministry drove, all the while pushing the need for money for people such as the young woman I would meet.   The grandmother met us in the yard of a clay and probably dung hut, dirt floor, very dark room, single table, candle, two chairs…  Grandma went behind a partition and obvious struggle to get someone out of bed ensued.  I was invited to sit down.   The seldom moved candle holder sooted the wall black to the ceiling at one end of the table.

Rose came.  I stood.  Her thinness, the long stem, accented her height.  She was beautiful.  She sat on her side of that narrow table.  We were formally introduced.   Grandma and the ‘pastor’ bantered on about they didn’t know what was wrong with Rose.  They needed money for food and to take her to the hospital.  I wish you could have seen the eye roll Rose gave.  It was like a bubble came down over Rose and I.  As far as I know those two never quit talking but neither Rose nor I heard them.  I smiled, reached out my hands for hers.  She drew back… I waited.  It took a few moments.  I said, “Rose, you know what is going on don’t you?”

Half a smile and she leaned back in.  “Yes.”

“Rose, you know Jesus don’t you?  I can see the light in your eyes.”

Unfolding her arms, laying hands on the table, “oh yes, sir”.

She told me her story.  Her husband, a promiscuous truck driver, brought the ‘wasting disease’ (HIV/AIDS) home to her.  He died the year before.  She knew her death would soon come.  She told me of her faith, a truly holy moment, missed by those talking, only for the one listening.

“Rose, you will not give me this disease by holding my hands.  It would be a blessing to hold your hands as we pray.”  As rain on that rose in the photo, tears came.  She allowed me to hold her hands and we prayed.  Both of us.  I don’t remember what was said.  I do remember as I prayed for her, she in her final days prayed for me to be blessed, no thought of self.

Three weeks later a phone call from that ‘pastor’ asking for money to get Rose’s body out of the hospital so they could bury her.   I strongly doubted the claim, but praying and believing some of the funds would get to the grandmother we agreed and wired the money.

Tears on a beautiful face hovering above a long thin body, soon to die on this earth and forever to be in the presence of her Redeemer…. It seemed unholy to take a photo of THAT Rose in that moment.  The photo above is in the upper right corner of my computer, I open it now and then.

I will never forget Rose.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Kim Stutzman permalink
    27/01/2018 10:24

    Very beautiful story.

    Liked by 1 person

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