“Make Me Salt, Make Me Light” the verses of the song twirl through my mind, in the wake of my latest visit to Germany for the Protestant Women of the Chapel's “Worship and Study” Conference, I return exhausted and encouraged, having forged new friendships, learned and grown.
As I spent time with all these military wives, it brought back so many memories of what it was like to be in their shoes. Memories of war and deployment, absent husband, and the harried life they face each day.
While I participated in fun and fellowship, I could not shake a memory from another era in my life. The memory of refugee woman named Eliza whom I met during the Kosovo conflict in 1999 when I was doing refugee relief work in Macedonia.
She was a remarkable woman who fled her homeland with her four children. No husband. No explanation as to where he was or what happened to him. People get lost in war. Her greatest hope and dream had nothing to do with her own security. She wished to build a church in her hometown – not one of spires like the orthodox nor one with domes like the mosques. She wanted true Christianity in Kosovo.
And so she crocheted doilies to raise money to this end. She will always be one of my heroes, an unsung hero. For on the day I left Macedonia, she said she'd pray for me. And that shook me to the core. It is a truly remarkable thing when someone who stands in a place of genuine suffering can care for the needs of others.
The women of this PWOC have something in common with Eliza. For in these tenuous times, it's tough to be a military wife. The level of stress with constant deployments and cross cultural living is almost incomprehensible. And yet they go on each day. Choosing not simply to survive but to look outside their hard places and reach out to minister to the needs of others around them. It is truly remarkable.
They are the unsung heroes of the Iraqi war. And although no medals of valor will ever decorate their chest, they still walk faithfully through whatever God has called them to walk through.
Over the course of this trip I penned this poem. And although it is the story of Eliza, the refugee from Kosovo, it is dedicated to these amazing women of valor around the world who know how to walk faithfully and fruitfully, especially in the dark and hard places.