Our office administrator needs prayer. She is really struggling with a difficult family situation and she is running out of options. She is a 25 year old single woman who has been a follower of Jesus for over five years. She has worked in our office since February this year and she is very beautiful, intelligent, and spiritual. Why we can't find any Christian young men for her is beyond me. One of her Church elders has tried all year without success. Now her parents have decided that she needs to be taught a lesson and the best way to straighten her out is to marry her off to the most difficult Muslim man they can find. In case you thought your life was tough in any way let me give you a window on hers. She comes home every night to her family who tells her that it is painful for them to look at her. They yell at her and demean her as much as they can because they hate her faith in Jesus. She goes into her room with her cat and shuts the door every evening because she is not welcome to sit with the family. Every month she gives them her whole paycheck and she obeys them in everything they tell her to do- even when they forbid her to go and meet with believers on Sundays, which they do frequently. I met with her the other day and she was really discouraged and on the verge of panic. She had had a horrific fight with her Mom who said that she must marry this latest Muslim guy. She met with the guy and he told her she would have to quit work, renounce her faith, and stay at home. He told her to 'say goodbye to your western clothes and your friends'. Like all young girls in the city she wears western style dresses but there is a move towards a much more radical Islamic society here. The Government is fighting it but losing. Anyway, in response to her desperate situation I was reminded of a story. I will tell you what I told her.
We met Elanor over ten years ago. She was a translator on a medical project for our aid agency. She worked with a woman doctor from the West for a couple of years. During that time she became a follower of Jesus. Her parents did not know it and she kept her faith a secret for a long time. I don't remember how they found out but when they did it was bad. We did not know that they did not know about her faith. If we knew the situation we would have counseled her differently because I hate the secret believer situation and we have always worked against it. Elanor's father was a diabetic and had some serious complications as a result. The Western doctor gave him free medical care for a year but it did not help the situation. They took Elanor and locked her in her room. Her father would come home everyday from work and beat her pretty severely. Then her grandfather would read her the Koran every night. They took away her Bible, they forbid her to meet with her friends, they never let her out. This went on for months. She had one girlfriend who would sneak up to her outside window and talk, pray, and encourage her. She was even able to smuggle in a Bible but it was later found. That had really terrible consequences as you can imagine. Elanor has one of the most beautiful smiles you have ever seen. She literally radiates joy and light. This drove her family crazy. Literally. As the beatings and the harassment went on she became more and more despondent. One day, as she was crying after a particularly bad beating she called out to God and asked where He was in all of this. "Why can't I hear you anymore? Where are you, God?" Just then she heard a voice in the room. An audible voice that said in her native language of Rohan (Yes, God speaks Rohan apparently!), "It is because of your fear that you can not hear me. Fear drowns out my voice." She dedicated herself to trusting Him entirely after that. She needed to because after that the beatings grew worse and the threats to kill her increased and became much more credible. Finally, she escaped and stayed hidden in the village of her friend for three months. When she came back her mother was very grateful to have her return and said there would be no more beatings and no more discussion of her faith if only she would stay. They honored that and she lived with them for a time. Then she went to the West and did a year in a Bible College. I hate it when this happens because very often people don't come back and if they do they have a Western expression of the faith that makes no sense to their home country. Elanor did come back and immediately realized the barriers she would have to overcome. She has overcome them and now she dresses very traditionally and expresses her faith in a very culturally appropriate way. She married a very fine young man who is a sincere follower of Jesus. He probably has as beautiful smile as she does. They work together in a village to the south and the way they radiate Jesus is one of the most beautiful things I have seen in Middle Earth.
But for our office administrator we are at the beginning of this story. She has a long road ahead and many trials. The same Jesus who was with Elanor is with her and I am confident that His glory will be made known in wonderful ways in this situation.... as long as fear is silenced.