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To Wash His Face: A REACH Update

By Kara, REACH Team Indochina

With language school wrapped up, we had the opportunity to travel to the southern part of the country to spend some time visiting a teammate’s family who live and own a water filter factory down there.

Our first day was spent being shown around the factory and observing the filter-making process. The simple-looking clay pots prove to be of greater value and intricacy than they outwardly appear. Not only is their construction handled with delicate precision, but so also are the opportunities to invest in all those whose lives these filters enter, whether that’s the workers who mold them or the villagers to whom they are sold. The filters provide jobs for locals, prevent disease in increasingly distant and rural areas of the country, and have even enabled those with a third-grade education to become scientific technicians in the factory lab! However, possibly the most incredible part of the business is what was conveyed to us as “washing the face of the Son.”

“It’s a chance to slowly wipe away the mud and dirt that has been cast upon the Son’s face, redeeming his image and gaining a reputation as a people of upright character and love.”Our faith family has not, and still often does not, do a great job of representing the one we follow, and unfortunately the beliefs of the west are often linked to horrors such as wars and bombings. This cultural barrier runs far deeper than we are aware of at times, and a prejudice is held against the things that we may say. The factory is a place where opportunity, education, health, honor, and a sense of familial belonging are being demonstrated and cultivated. It’s a chance to slowly wipe away the mud and dirt that has been cast upon the Son’s face, redeeming his image and gaining a reputation as a people of upright character and love. Through humble and simple actions the message of love is truly able to find meaning.

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” (2 Corinthians 4:7 NIV)

It’s not a glamorous process, this clay-jar-face-washing. A fact made all the more evident to some of us later in the week as we headed up to a plateau village for a few days. Our team was split up, with the guys staying in a coffee shop guesthouse, and the girls living 40 minutes away in a host home. While the guys returned with tales of hiking waterfalls and wandering through fields to pick coffee beans, Shontel and I had a far less romantic experience. Call us pitiful, but we were pretty miserable. Yes, the village was as picturesque as any post card, but life there is far from idyllic.

Even knowing I only had two days and that this was more of an adventure than a reality, I found that complaining and comfort are two things that have far more of a hold in my heart than I would like to admit. Sometimes washing the Son’s face means living in a wood-stilt house surrounded by people who

babble away in a language I can barely understand. It means cleaning dishes in cold water, and taking a “bath” while standing on a concrete square a few yards from the house in similarly icy water and the perhaps chillier feeling of knowing privacy is a word that simply must be forgotten. It means painful attempts at conversation, trying to delicately avoid the profuse quantities of beer, eating bowls of noodles, mastering the art of the squat, and playing the same games for hours with the little girl who wants me to talk with her. Washing his face means admitting the struggle between knowing this isn’t my permanent reality, and desiring to understand and show others my willingness to step into the reality that belongs to much of the world.

Though every part of me wanted to escape, it was a worthwhile experience. Despite what we often think, worthwhile doesn’t necessarily mean fun. The value was not in “are you enjoying yourself?” because frankly, much of it was not enjoyable. Value comes from experiencing what the vast majority of others on this earth experience, from having the filter over my eyes increasingly widened, and from the challenges that continue to refine my character and strengthen my soul.

Value comes from the incredibly beautiful opportunity to be able to wash the face of the one who washed our feet.

Please pray for Kara and her team as they continue exalting the beautiful name of Jesus in Indochina.

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