Name | Nadia and Rachel, Pakistan
Whenever eleven-year-old Nadia walked by the neighborhood church, her parents’ admonition jolted her from curiosity. Their words waved a finger of warning in her mind: “Nadia, you are to ignore the infidels and their church. It is an affront to your Muslim faith.”
Still, as she tugged her colorful headscarf around her head and walked hurriedly past the church, the building itself, the cross that towered above it, the people inside, and the God she could overhear them talking about piqued her interest.
“Jesus,” she heard a man say over the church loudspeaker, “is the way, the truth, and the life. ”
Nadia did not know what these words meant, yet they intrigued her. If Jesus is the way, she wondered, then why am I a Muslim? Those words proved to be spiritual seeds planted in the deep, rich soil of her soul, and they would bear fruit.
In time, Nadia became friends with a girl about her age, Rachel, who attended the church and lived nearby.
This gave Nadia the opportunity to pepper Rachel with all sorts of questions she had stored up during the years.
“Who is this Jesus you speak of?” Nadia asked.
“He is God-become-man, the maker of all.”
“Yes, Nadia, even you,” said Rachel. “And me. And everyone. He loves us and desires a relationship with us.”
“What does he expect of us?” asked Nadia. “What must we do to be in his kingdom? What rules must we keep? What rituals must we perform?”
Rachel touched her friend’s hand while lightly shaking her head. “It is not like that. He doesn’t want your rituals or your rules. He wants your heart. Your trust. With that, you will want to obey.” What kind of God is this? Nadia wondered.
After Rachel gave her a Bible, Nadia discreetly started reading it and began to understand. This was a God of grace. Of love. Of compassion. He even knew the exact number of hairs on her head and would leave ninety-nine sheep to save one—perhaps her. This God was quite unlike the one she was raised to believe in, and she desired to be part of his kingdom.
Soon Nadia prayed to place her trust in Christ, a secret she shared only with Rachel. But when Nadia’s brother, Miled, discovered her praying and later going to church, he flew into a rage. He began beating her weekly.
He insisted that she deny Christ.
He followed her to church one morning, caught up with her, grabbed her by the back of the neck, took her home, and beat her black and blue.
“How dare you enter that church!” he exclaimed. “Have you forgotten that you are a Muslim? You’re never to set foot in that church again!”
“I should be free to attend church,” she protested.
He picked up a wooden bowl and slammed it into her forehead, splitting the skin above her eye. As blood poured out, he shoved her into her bedroom and locked the door. He kept her there for weeks, entering only to give her small amounts of food and water but many welts and bruises. Not one of her other family members objected to his brutality or did anything to help her.
Finally, she escaped and found refuge with a pastor and his family. Because Nadia was a former Muslim, however, her presence put others at risk. Fearing retaliation, they soon asked her to find someplace else to live. When she wanted to be baptized, three pastors turned her down because they feared they would be attacked or their churches would be burned. Eventually, a pastor in a distant town agreed to baptize Nadia.
She felt a happiness she had never felt before.
God then blessed her with a Christian man, whom she later married. But when her parents learned of the marriage, they registered kidnapping complaints against the man. They claimed he had lured her away from her Muslim faith. Miled found the couple and beat Nadia’s husband so badly his eardrum ruptured.
Because the couple had to go into hiding, Nadia’s husband could not find work. Other Christians, however, came alongside and helped him start his own business so he could earn money and still keep a low profile.
Beatings. Ostracizing. False accusations. Nadia and her husband have made the sacrifices and endured the abuse in order to cling to their faith in Christ. Christian workers who help this couple marvel at their fortitude and their thankfulness.
During a time of prayer with another Christian, Nadia did not mention her own needs. She said only this:
“Oh, Jesus, Son of God, you know me very well. You saved my husband’s life when my brother attacked him and beat him badly. When we were hungry, you provided meals and a place to live. Jesus, we trust that you will never leave us. Amen.”
Amen indeed. Her hope rests in the confidence that Jesus will never leave us. His great, sacrificial love inspires us to treat others as he has treated us. “‘For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ … And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me’” (Matthew 25:35–36, 40).
What a privilege we have to thank God for taking care of us by being his hands and feet to care for others, whether they live next door or in a faraway country. May we pray for God’s guidance in discovering their needs and learn to be more sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s leading in caring for them.
© 2016 Voice of the Martyrs. I Am N is published by David C Cook. All rights reserved.