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I have literally hundreds of thousands of images stored on my many hard drives, between random iPhone snaps and multitudes of weddings and portraits photographed. It’s easy for me to forget the importance of photographs. I’m so thankful that God encouraged me to buy a Polaroid camera before heading off to Australia earlier this year. I wanted to have the ability to give someone a tangible photograph, right then and there, no editing or developing or sending off to the printer. When we met Asha* and her family, I knew this was an opportunity to bring out the Polaroid camera. I’m so thankful for this beautiful reminder of the power of one simple image.

We met Asha at one of our medical clinics on the street. We set up on the front porch of a local neighbourhood, offering free medical checks to anyone in the area. Unlike many patients, however, Asha didn’t come to find a solution to her body pains or to receive medications.

She came because she wanted prayer.

Asha is 54 years old and has just been diagnosed with cancer. She came to our clinic with her daughter, who is visiting her from about 6 hours away to care for her and help her through this time. There wasn’t anything we could do for her in a simple medical clinic, but she knew that we did have what she truly needed – Jesus.

My fellow student Breanna, a nurse from the United States, had the opportunity to give Asha a massage with coconut oil and have conversation with her and her daughter about how their faith in Jesus is getting them through this tough time. Asha’s daughter also experiences hardships back home, but they both radiate so much joy and peace despite their tough circumstances. The time spent in the clinic setting wasn’t enough, though. When Breanna shared Asha’s story with our team, we knew we wanted to show her even more care.

The next evening, we set out to track down Asha’s home. It reminded me of an episode of Dora the Explorer with all of the twists and turns we had to take to reach our destination. We wondered if we were being intentionally distracted from our true purpose and worried about making it there and back for dinner, but God worked all things for good. Along our path to Asha’s house, we prayed for children, saw one man seeking healing receive Jesus in his life, and had the opportunity to encourage a sister in Christ that was needing some love. It was that last sister that finally pointed us to Asha’s house, and we got there at exactly the right time. It was amazing to see the faces of Asha and her daughter light up when they recognised Breanna walking up to their home.

Once inside, we again massaged Asha’s sore legs and went around singing praise songs, reading from the bible in Asha’s own language, and encouraging our sisters. Family members and friends crowded at the door to see what was going on in the home, and we did our best to maintain a peaceful and private environment for our new friends. Eventually, we ended up with only a few family members looking on. As we were about to finish up our evening, my teammate Felix piped up with a question.

“I know this is random,” he said, “but I just feel like I need to ask if anyone in the room wants to receive Jesus tonight.” Our translator asked each individual, until one man spoke out a “yes.”

It was Asha’s father.

We invited him from his position in the corner of the room closer to the centre. We asked him if we could tell him more about Jesus. As we shared, he nodded in understanding. Through translation we learned that he knew this Jesus – He had been showing up to him in dreams. He said he was ready to forsake all other gods and begin a relationship with Jesus, so we helped him through a prayer to receive Jesus. It was amazing to watch Asha’s face light up as her father gave his life to follow Jesus, the God that has been alongside her through so much. I can only imagine what a reassurance that evening was for her, not knowing how much longer she has in this life but knowing now that she will see him again.

Before we left for the night, I told Asha that I wanted to give her a photograph as a gift. The family grouped up and I took two shots on my polaroid – one for Asha, and one for her daughter to bring back home once she heads back to Hyderabad.

I love looking at this simple Polaroid image, even though it’s not perfect lighting and depth of field like I would usually want an image to be. This image tells a beautiful story: the story of a woman who has peace through hard times. The story of her daughter who freely serves and loves her mother despite her own hardships. The story of a man who can now experience the peace his daughter has at such a low point in life.

And most of all, this image represents the story of the Jesus who heals, loves, and lays down His own life for us.

This story is just one beautiful experience that I have had here in India, and I’m trusting God to see many more in the future! Click here to receive stories like this by email, or click here to learn about other ways you can get involved with my work in missions. Please email me if you have any questions or would like to chat. I’d love to hear more about your own story with God!

*Names changed for safety.

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we are the rileys

We are a newlywed couple serving in Christian missions.

God has called us to Youth With a Mission in Perth, Australia. We have a heart for the city of Perth and for reaching Aboriginal people here in Western Australia. We would also love to see transformation and mobilisation through partnering with local initiatives in other nations in short-term outreach trips. Together, we have a passion for mentorship and discipleship of young people. Chris is gifted in meeting practical needs, and Leanne has a big desire for the sphere of Media & Communications.

This is our blog, a place to share what God is doing as well as things we learn as we journey through the adventure of following Jesus!