Miang was not sure of her age, but she knew it was more than 90. Maybe 95? Her fried bananas were heavy—how did she carry them on top of her head? She was so petite! And in that heat! And barefoot! Ted Olbrich and I had no idea we would meet her as we walked on that tiny dirt road on the Cambodian countryside toward the Foursquare church and children's house, but there she was, walking in the same direction as us.

I'm not sure what caused me to ask her if I could carry her bananas (on top of my head), but I'm sure the request from this foreigner seemed pretty silly. Yet she handed them to me, and I carried them for what felt like five miles! (It was probably less than one mile.) While we walked, Miang did not stop smiling or giggling. When we arrived at the Foursquare children's home we were able to talk to her and eat a lot of fried bananas together. Then Miang continued her daily journey of survival: twice a day she walked barefoot for miles to two or three villages, selling the fried bananas that she carried on top of her head.

Only days later when I saw the pictures my wife, Beth, had taken did I realize something greater had happened in my life (I'm usually pretty slow in catching things). This lesson was not about Miang but about what Jesus wanted to teach me that day. I was impacted when the Spirit showed me: "Jonathan, this is a picture of how I want to use you, helping others carry their burdens." As the typical leader, I tend to complicate things often. The Holy Spirit spoke simply, powerfully and directly to my heart. This is what I understood about Miang and those bananas that day:

  • The Lord wants me to carry other people's bananas more often. As I walk in life I constantly encounter people who are carrying a lot of weight—large burdens of sin, addiction and hurt. Jesus is calling me to come alongside and serve people in His name. This goes against my flesh, but what a picture of the gospel!
  • The Lord wants to use me to bring more joy to others. I could not help but notice how much Miang smiled and laughed that day. Every time I looked at her she would smile. She laughed so much. It seemed like one continuous fun event to her, and it was contagious—I laughed and smiled too. When I help others carry their burdens, He will add His joy into the process.
  • I will get to eat more bananas in the process. I love fried bananas, and Miang was more than happy to share her bananas with her "burden-bearer"—and I ate way too many! As I serve others, they will be a surprising source of multiplied blessings to my life.

Thanksgiving is a time to reflect and rejoice in the Lord's goodness. As we do, may we be so grateful that His "yoke is easy" and His "burden is light" (Matthew 11:30). May He multiply our joy and fulfillment as we give to others this week and may He surprise us as we are "fed" and blessed in surprising ways! Thank you, Lord, for those wonderful fried bananas!

"Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ." -Galatians 6:2 (NIV)

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By: Jonathan Hall, director of missions