Threatened and forced to convert
Three days later, Maria herself appeared in court.
“The girl must have been put under tremendous pressure,” our partner says. “She said she went with her abductor by her own consent. Moreover, she spoke before court in favor of her abductor who was arrested by the police during their investigations and pleaded with the judge for his release. In front of her family, she declared her willingness to go with her abductor, a Muslim man, already married and a father of two.”
After hearing all the arguments, the court dismissed the petition filed by Maria’s family. Maria left the court with the people who took her at gunpoint just three days earlier.
Her cousin and confidant told our partner: “‘I know my cousin well. She would never have gone willingly. She is a gentle girl but not stupid. She must have been threatened with the safety of her parents and family members and other Christian girls at the factory.”
And her fate? “We don’t know,” the Open Doors partner says. “We are trying to find out where she’s being held and under what circumstances.”
‘Please don’t let go’
There is still hope. Thanks to your gifts and prayers, Open Doors is able to support local advocacy initiatives. In this case, prayer is extremely important. “We need a miracle to save Maria,” our partner says.
Maria’s Christian community is reeling from shock over Maria’s abduction and forced marriage. One believer told our partner, “We cannot stop working, we still have to send our children to work. How else will we survive? But how will we survive if they keep taking our children? What do we do? We are doomed either way!”
Even in the midst of coronavirus and lockdowns, persecution of believers like Maria is still rampant. “We are distributing relief to thousands of Christians who have been denied aid,” our partner says. “In the midst of this pandemic, we cannot withhold other vital work, such as helping Christian families who have been attacked. Your prayers are our lifeline. Please don’t let go.”
* representative name and photo used for security reasons