Years ago, I fell in love with a cattle rancher. He was actually a former cattle rancher and a former under-cover cop and a former US Marshal. Yib Boney, a Florida Cracker, is the reason I love cows. Our love affair was a Civil War re-enactment. I was a well-bred Yankee woman and he was a slow talkin’, tobaccy spittin’ Southern man. He painted an irresistible picture of raising cattle. He was also a former truck driver, so that made him a former cattle hauler. He was also a crusty old curmudgeon who had no interest in indulging my interest in cows. “Been there, done that, ain’t doing it again.”
Ran Away for Cows
I loved cows so much, I ran away to Kansas and we all know how that turned out. If you don’t know, there is a book called Moon at Eleven O’Clock which will describe it in wild west detail.
I Bought Five Cows
Years later, I bought five cows outside of a refugee camp in the middle of nowhere, Africa. While I do not own these cows, I gave one as a wedding gift and four as an unacceptably insufficient dowry to represent the largest payment I could muster to buy the freedom of a woman who would have been sold to the highest bidder.
The Back Story
July 2017, a missionary from our church returned to tell us about his work in Africa. He said, “God broke my heart with the refugees. They are dying of curable diseases, they are alone without hope, they just want someone to listen to their story.” Then he asked us to close our eyes and raise our hand if we deeply desired the Lord to use us for his purposes. With tears streaming down my face, I raised both hands and silently told the Lord, “I am just the right person to listen to their stories.”
God Uses Facebook
I have been contacted by various refugees since that mighty prayer. I can always tell the one’s the Lord sends to me. For six years, I have listened to countless stories of heartbreak and suffering. I have learned about the African culture and the plight of the refugee in hopeless exile. My prayer journal is full of countless prayer requests. I have seen miracles and I have suffered the silence of unanswered prayers and insurmountable suffering that continues unabated.
I See Humanity in You
Facebook dinged again with a message from a young man who has lived in a camp almost his entire life. No clean water, no electricity, mud huts and rancid food rations provided by a rancid UN. These camps are in the middle of nowhere so no one can see the horrors.
He read some of my stories and said, “I saw how you struggled to relieve a colleague from the pain he suffered in Congo. I see humanity in you and I got the courage to send you this message.” I have been listening to his stories for a couple of years while we covered every subject in the universe.
Praying for 50 Cows
My young friend wants to get married. He must provide an acceptable dowry of 50 cows to the father of the bride. It is laughable really. The cost for one cow is impossible, but 50 cows is out of reach for these refugees who are literally being starved to death in the camps with the reduced food rations from the UN. The father knows however, that his college educated, beautiful young daughter would bring someone of means to purchase his daughter’s hand in marriage. Those with this kind of money would most likely be traffickers and at the very least would not be men of faith, honor and integrity. The girl has no real say in the matter.
Why Don’t You Just Elope?
The cultures are complicated and the customs bizarre by American standards. But no matter these differences, the boys I have taken under my wing, who call me Mom, love Jesus and they have the same hopes and dreams we do.
In my brilliant American wisdom, I suggested my friend run and get the girl from her war-torn country and bring her back to the country he has taken refuge in and elope. I learned the penalty for this would be life altering. He would be chased, jailed or killed. This would erase his dream to be a journalist. Come to think of it, being a journalist will most likely get him chased, jailed or killed.
Enter Plan B.
I told my young friend I would give a wedding gift of one cow. He was overjoyed. But to accept the wedding gift, he had to get married and to get married, he had to present an acceptable dowry. We talked about raising cattle for months. I did learn from my short stint of cattle ranching when I ran away to Kansas, that you can borrow a bull in order to grow your herd. My young friend’s eyes bugged out at such a suggestion. But the idea grew on him. Eventually I pledged a total of five cows and knew that with a good borrowed bull, he could have ten cows by Spring. Five cows represent 10% of the requested dowry. I looked at it as my personal tithe for God to use to buy the freedom for one of his children so the young couple could marry and honor the Lord with a proper marriage. And while it would seem it will take ten years to produce the dowry, there are a few cultural strings that may be pulled.
Never Going to Publish This
I sat on this story and frankly never thought I would publish it. That is until today. My sister knows I love cows and for my birthday she surprised me with a custom cow cake sporting edible horns to match a cow shirt she ordered from Lula Roe.
Right Woman for the Job
I cannot easily tell anyone I am buying cows for someone I have never met, in a country I would never visit because the Lord wants to work through me. Africa is a land of conmen and criminals. Many think I am being swindled. Some think I have become unhinged and radically irresponsible. I say to them, “just put it on my tombstone.” I know the Lord tells us to be generous and full of hospitality and He will take care of the rest. I believe Him. And really, who would be better equipped than me to fulfill this mission? Who would have the knowledge and the nerve to do something this outrageous? It is so easy for me.
Think carefully when you are asked to raise your hand if you desire the Lord to use you for his purposes and be doubly careful about raising both hands.
Polly Riddell writing as G. Polly Jordan
is on a quest to follow the Lord wherever He leads. And He will take you places you simply cannot believe and ask you to do some of the wildest things…while using your love of cows to purchase freedom in the most amazingly scripted way. Let Him write HisStory through your life.