by Craig Heidenreich

Have you been to a Middle Eastern supermarket and wandered through the aisles full of exotic spices, nuts and sweets labelled in Arabic, Persian or Hindi? As you take in the aromas, it feels like you have been transported to another place entirely. Let me take you there for a minute!

In recent months, my wife Beverley and I have been visiting a nearby congregation to encourage them as they explore opportunities for outreach in their suburb, and they have one of these supermarkets within walking distance.

After each visit, we cross the road for a strong Middle Eastern coffee in ‘little Syria’, and the shop owner Maryam* has become a warm friend. She is a dignified woman with a headscarf and bright eyes. Each time we visit, she shares a little more of her story.


A widow with five grown children, Maryam tells (with quiet resolve) of the long years of immigration detention that undermined her husband’s health until he died prematurely. She tells of her struggle to provide for the family by working double shifts. She talks of her grown son who is too depressed to work. She speaks of her longing to return to Syria, which is still thwarted by civil war.

Our hearts are moved for Maryam, but Jesus loves her more and is watching over her for good.

The other day as we paid for our coffee, Beverley asked Maryam, ‘Can I pray a blessing on you before we go – can I pray in Jesus’ name?’

Maryam said yes and immediately came from behind her counter and threw her arms around her while Beverley prayed that Jesus would heal her heart and bless her family.

Maryam is not far from the kingdom.

*Maryam is not her real name.

Craig Heidenreich is LCANZ Cross-Cultural Ministry Facilitator.

This story was first published as ‘Maryam – a woman of peace’ in Cross-Cultural Ministry eNews. To subscribe, go to

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