Recently my wife and I went to the market to buy vegetables. Little did I know that our dedication to be graceful in the face of public scrutiny would be tested so strongly. This was our third time to the market and twice we have been harassed by someone under the influence of drugs or alcohol. (In the morning!)

As we spoke with the Vegetable Lady, a drunk man began harassing us. I noticed he was too close to my wife and gently pulled him away, protecting her. As I politely moved him, bits of green Chat leaves (the local drug) flew off his lips as he protested, along with the strong aroma of alcohol. I managed to back him away to a safe distance but he didn’t leave, nor did he stop insisting he help us. He wanted more money for his addictions. Of course, we politely declined but he continued to insist that he help us.

Many local eyes began to turn toward our predicament. Some came to our aid by asking the man to leave us alone. He responded, “I want to help the foreigners!”

We continued to purchase our vegetables, settled the bill, then walked to the Banana Lady. There our unwantedBanana Lady helper announced our purpose and his, “They want bananas and I want the change!” The seller protested on our behalf and wouldn’t give us our change until she had commanded him to move a safe distance away.

We also needed pasta but truncated our shopping due to his persistence. His voice became increasingly louder, demanding attention. I walked my wife to our truck, unlocked the door and let her in. Our unwanted helper watched my every move. As I walked to my side, he followed.

As is typical in our experience here, my unwanted helper wouldn’t let me close my door after I got in. He wedged himself into the opening and thrust out his hand, showing me that he wanted five coins, about 25 cents. I couldn’t oblige as it would simply fuel his addiction. I couldn’t share the gospel as his mind was unavailable for the message. I could only pray.

I had started my vehicle and considered pulling away to leave my unwanted helper behind in a cloud of dust. However something inside told me to ask for the help of the on-looking crowd. So I motioned to one. Seeing our need, he walked toward our unwanted helper and was joined by two other willing rescuers. These three men pleaded our case and gently pulled the unwanted helper away while coaxing us to drive off. We were thankful for their helpfulness.

At that point, my wife began to smile and wave back to the many women sellers. Many had looked at us with suspicion upon our arrival. Now they were showing a wave of support and empathy toward my wife because of what had happened. We believe doors of opportunity opened.

Although I extended grace outwardly, I had been ready to fight several times. I was ready to defend my wife, ready to defend my right to buy vegetables and ready to make an example of the unwanted helper. But the Holy Spirit was there to guide and convict, steadying my nerves so grace was shown. He is always with us.

We talk about Jesus’ love—this was a time to show His grace. We hope this will help us see souls won for Jesus here in the Coffee Grounds.

Will you pray, asking the Holy Spirit to give us guidance, conviction, and grace for those that need Him? Jesus didn’t say, “Love those who treat you with respect.” Rather, our Lord said, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” Matt. 5:44.

Stand with us so that we can live with grace. We appreciate you and your desire to share in our life and calling.

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