Sofia sold tempeh in the market. Her husband Rudi would make the nutritious cakes of fermented soybeans, wrapping them in banana leaves. This culinary delicacy had been made and enjoyed in Indonesia for centuries. Sofia was proud of Rudi, who was known as one of the best tempeh makers in the market. Each day she arranged her supply of tempeh and then quietly pull out a small book, a Bible that had been given to her at a neighborhood Bible Study. One day she read for several hours before she realized that none of the tempeh had sold! What could be wrong? It didn’t look like the market was empty; there were many shoppers bustling about. Sofia nervously rearranged her display but gasped when she saw Rudi walking up. He had come to the market to purchase banana leaves from his supplier and decided to check on Sofia. As she suspected he would be, Rudi was not happy with what he saw.
“Sofia!” he exclaimed without compassion, “You haven’t sold a thing! What have you been doing all this time?”
Sofia did not know what to say, she tried to hide her Bible under the stack of tempeh. She was as disappointed as Rudi; after all, the money they earned was for both of them and their baby, Agus. She wanted their tempeh to sell just like Rudi did.
“Why don’t you pray, Sofia?” Rudi suggested, not hiding his sarcastic tone, “You always do anyways. Why don’t you ask that Jesus to help you sell the tempeh. Let’s see if He is good for something practical!” Rudi gave her a disgusted look and marched off, disappearing into a crowd of shoppers.
Sofia was relieved that Rudi was gone, but a tear escaped and made its way down her cheek. She was embarrassed and also a little frightened at the anger that seemed to come so quickly when Rudi was confronted with Jesus. Why was Rudi so upset? But perhaps he was right, perhaps she should pray. That’s it! Sofia would pray! She would ask Jesus to help her sell her tempeh. She remembered learning in Bible Study that Jesus Himself had said that He knew she needed food and clothing and so she knew that He would want to help her sell these cakes of soybean. Sofia quickly wiped the tear away and bowed her head to pray, unashamed.
It was early afternoon when Rudi returned to their home in the village. He had picked up his supply of banana leaves and soybeans and had purchased a new pot for cooking. It had been difficult to find a minibus that had enough room to add him and his purchases to its load of passengers, so Rudi was quite late. Frustrated to be behind schedule, Rudi dropped his load just outside the front door and went inside to change into his work clothes. The sight of Sofia sitting on the edge of their bed startled him.
“What are you doing here, Sofia? Is Agus sick?”
“No, Agus is fine.”
“And you look like you are fine, so why have you come home so early? Who is watching over our stall?” As each word came out of Rudi’s mouth he seemed to get even more agitated. “Sofia! You have quit your job! You are not being responsible! I work hard every day so we can afford to feed ourselves! What you have done is very bad!”
“Rudi, I have not quit my job!” said Sofia, for the first time feeling confident, “I have done just what you said. As soon as you left me in the market I prayed to Jesus and asked Him to help me sell our tempeh. In just one hour I sold everything that you had made! You can ask Pak Martoyo and Tuti, they saw exactly what happened! I sold it all and so I came home to help you.”
Sofia took the money she’d earned out of her pocket purse and spread it out on their bed. Together they counted the money and it equaled exactly what Rudi had hoped to earn that day. He was quite for a few moments and then he looked into Sofia’s eyes. A tear made its way down Rudi’s cheek but he didn’t try to brush it away.
“Why don’t you arrange for that Bible teacher to come to our house,” he said quietly. “I think I need to learn more about this Jesus that you pray to.”
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