By Emily Theresa

It’s the balloons that get me.

Twenty mothers are seated on the floor. They’re from Mudur, Sri Lanka and they’re seated in elegance, wearing their best dresses, their bare feet crossed. Some have brought their children, and the pastor sits on the floor of the church with them. They’ve got Bibles in hand, and notebooks which they’ve been given.

And they are holding balloons. Bright colored balloons. And on their faces, a flicker of joy.

These are the same women who wept. We visited them in secret the day we were chased by the police, and every mother we met wept. Silent, hot tears – the kind that speak volumes. These are women who’ve been abandoned by husbands and government, who were not even allowed to collect and sell firewood. Some have disabled, bedridden husbands. One has a husband who is blind. Most of them collected dry sticks of wood anyway. They had nothing else.

Until recently. Our friend Mohan, together with the Harvestime teacher and the local pastor, have formed a trinity of sorts. Collecting bricks and lumber at night to avoid detection; spending days constructing chicken farms, goat shelters, and shops for these women to work in, these men pause only to disciple the women in Harvestime, feed them, and play balloon games with them and their children.

Then they slip back into the night to collect more supplies to complete the sustainable projects which will allow these mothers to care for their families.

Theirs is an incarnational kind of love, and it’s spreading across India, too. In the forgotten places, in the places where mothers weep, there’s a flash of color and a fresh wind of hope. Like air filling a balloon.

In Gondia, Maharashtra, India, twenty mothers gather each week to study Harvestime, feasting on the Word and then food. They, too, sit on the floor in their finest, while a pastor greets them, and the teacher disciples them in the secrets of Christ – in intercessory prayer, kingdom living, and spiritual warfare. Each has chosen goats and a shelter for her sustainable project. Soon the growling sounds of hunger will be replaced by laughter in the village of Gondia.

Saroja, the woman who oversees Lulu Tree South Asia, is the fragrance of Christ. She refuses a stipend, instead raising funds to support the Lulu work so it might spread. With her radiant smile and fearless heart, she embodies the every-growing joy.

Oh friends, we serve a God whose love is made manifest in bare feet and open hands. A God who sits on the floor with His children and plays with them. Who takes the time to blow up a balloon. Who slips into the night to do back-breaking work so the women don’t have to.

We serve a God who fills the universe with joy, and it overflows into the laughter of the redeemed poor, rising before His throne like a colorful array of balloons set free to soar.


Prayer for the Mothers of Sri Lanka and India:

Father, we lift to you these precious mothers in Sri Lanka and India. You see all they are enduring, and You love them more than they could ever imagine. Thank You for gathering them together to feast on Your Word and to fellowship with one another. Thank You for Mohan, the Harvestime teachers, the pastors, and Saroja – Your servants who are pouring out their lives that others might taste and see that You are good. We pray for protection. Hide the women and all who serve them under the shadow of Your wing. Bless their sustainability projects with favor and success. Surround these mothers, their children, and their sick and disabled husbands with angels. Put the fear of You on anyone who would harm them, and fill their hearts and homes with Your joy and peace. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

(A small note to say — Emily’s new memoir is releasing June 4th, about all God has done through The Lulu Tree. If you wish to pre-order, go HERE, or HERE if you’re Canadian. If you wish to join Emily’s prayer team for the book, please go HERE)

New memoir by Emily Wierenga