When You Wish Upon a . . . String?
A young woman unwinds a spool of thread as she walks the last kilometer up to the crest of a hill. To her, the thread symbolizes hope—perhaps for love, for a good marriage, or for a child. Or it could be that she’s wanting a better job, a house, or more money. Whatever the case, she ties her wish to the string, longing for something that seems out of reach. If only some divine help would aid her. . . . She’s not alone. In fact, she’s accompanied by thousands of others—men, women, and children— all keeping their dreams in mind as they trudge up the slope.
In the country where we live, it’s common to think of it as being “closed” to hearing the good news of Jesus. In many ways this is true. People here often react negatively to hearing about the Bible, sometimes spouting claims that they were taught as children like “The New Testament has been changed,” and “That message has been superseded.”
While this is the norm, there are a couple of days out of the year when those walls of confrontation or hostility seem to come down a bit. Believe it or not, on these days it’s popular for even Muslims to walk up to a nearby historic church that sets on a large hill—a small pilgrimage of sorts. The people making this trek perform several different actions along the way that are superstitions. Local people participate in these superstitions because they believe in the power of a story—that once someone’s prayer was answered in a similar way on this day and at this place.
One of the most common practices is to buy a spool of thread that represents your request for God, tie it to a post, and then walk it to the top of the hill where you tie it again. Left unbroken, this string is somehow going to win you favor, and perhaps God will grant your request. While typically we wouldn’t be able to do this type of ministry, we were able to hand out many New Testaments and DVDs with testimonies and to pray for many people. We told them not to leave their hopes in string, “holy places,” or other superstitions; true hope is found only in Jesus Christ. While many continued to string their thread along the way, we continue to pray that this message broke through for some people. It is our hope that we’ll be able to follow up more closely with a few dozen people who shared their names and numbers with us when taking a New Testament.
*Names omitted for security reasons.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. –1 Peter 1:3 NIV