The word faith spelled out in big letters backlit

New Years 2018: Abu’s Powerful Lesson About Faith

This is the second of a four story series of how asylum seekers have inspired my 2018 New Years Resolutions.

In this second story, I describe how a young asylee named Abu, who taught me to delete the self-defeating phrase, “I couldn’t” from my vocabulary.

Abu’s Story

I spend entirely too much time worrying about the unknown future. What if my house burnt down? What if I get breast cancer? What if my husband dies? I think,” I couldn’t possibly bear it.” But if visiting with Asylum Seekers has taught me anything, it is that you can survive a lot, even without paying the high price of bitterness.

Two young Ethiopian men dressed in western clothing, including rubber boots in suburban backyard
Abu with Mahmud after being released from detention

When my mind starts spinning out of control about some hypothetical calamity, I think of Abu, how he kept calm in the face of actual danger. Abu is a young farmer forced to flee Ethiopia after being jailed for a peaceful protest. When he came to the US, Abu left behind his young wife of only a few months and life in his close-knit family compound.

Abu went from working outside all day in the emerald green farmland to sitting in a grey windowless cinderblock warehouse, and from seeing his crops grow each day to experiencing mind-numbing sameness of institutional life. All the while, living with the possibility of deportation to Ethiopia where he would face certain death.

Agriculture landscape with fields of teff at morning in Ethiopia
Fields of teff at morning in Ethiopia

Abu’s Faith

Yet Abu would sit in front of me, with his peaceful smile and tell me in a voice so soft that I had to lean in to hear, that he wasn’t worried. His fate was in God’s hands. And he really meant it. Eventually, his faith was rewarded with asylum and a full-time job in a meat packing company in the Midwest.

Two young Men, Mohamed and Abu at First Friends Benefit dinner
Abu, on the left with Mohamed at the First Friends Benefit Dinner

In 2018 I’ll spend less time worrying if I could survive some inevitable knocks life will send my way, and knowing that I can get through anything with the help of my faith and my community.

This is the second in a series of 4 stories that shaped the Modern Church Lady’s New Years resolutions. Here’s the story of Mr. T, an asylum seeker who taught me to remove the phrase “Not Enough” from my vocabulary.

You can also read the first story about TJ, an asylee who taught me about persistence.