By Mary Hunt Webb

Posted Saturday, May 7, 2011

People struggle to pronounce her name. She speaks with an accent that shows that she was not born in the country in which she now resides. Everything she reads is in a language with which she must struggle daily.

She married for love and now raises her children in a culture different from the one in which she grew up. Her children constantly challenge her values as being out of step. Although children everywhere do this even when they grow up in the same culture as that of their mother, the foreign-born mother doesn’t always know when she is making a mistake. Therefore, she must develop an even stronger backbone than the one with which she was born. She must remain true to her core values even in the face of opposition from her own offspring.

An image of a crying boy.

I have not named a particular woman or a specific country because her situation is universal. I have met hundreds of such women because of interaction with other mothers and as a result of my career as a teacher of English as a Second Language (ESL) and as a Sunday School teacher. They have hailed from such diverse countries as Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, China, Colombia, El Salvador, France, Honduras, Hungary, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Kazakhstan, Mexico, Russia, South Korea, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Venezuela, and Vietnam – to name a few.

While some remain married to the men that brought them out of their native cultures, others have divorced for various reasons. What they have in common is their staunch love for their children.

An image of a mother and daughter.

God honors women who have followed such a difficult path. The biblical role model is Ruth, the Moabite woman who married an Israelite, buried him, and followed her mother-in-law, Naomi, to Israel. In so doing, Ruth vowed to serve the same God as Naomi. At the urging of Naomi, Ruth married another Israelite, Boaz. Although Ruth had no children from her first marriage, she and Boaz became the parents of Obed, the grandparents of Jesse, and the great-grandparents of David, the shepherd that became the second king of Israel. Boaz did not urge Ruth to abandon Naomi because he realized that he owed his marriage to Naomi’s encouragement. Naomi was their one-woman support team. For the full story, see the four chapters of the Book of Ruth in the Bible.

If you know a woman that, like Ruth, comes from a different country, befriend her. She needs reassurance that she is raising her children properly. She may need someone that can answer the questions she has, as Naomi did for Ruth.

On the other hand, if you, like Ruth, are living in a culture that is foreign to you and raising your children there, remember that God knows the daily struggles you face. He loves you and will bless you as you serve and honor Him. You can claim the same promise that God made to the Israelites in Isaiah 49:25b:

"25b) For I will contend with him who contends with you,
         And I will save your children.” (New King James Version)

Happy Mother’s Day!

An image of a mother and her toddler.

(All photos courtesy of

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