When Culture and Marriage Clash
*photo sourced from IMB.ORG
When Culture and Marriage Clash
When 23 year-old Sameda decided to accept a local man’s proposal, she was sure it was a good decision. “I married Rashid because he seemed to me a good man. Initially we were very happy until he became more interested about my faith. I did not hide the fact that I am a Christian and told him that God touched my life one day.”
After this conversation where Sameda shared her faith, she says things changed. Although Sameda’s faith had not bothered Rashid previously, her husband’s parents began to influence his ideas about her over time. Eventually, after the young couple had moved closer to his family, Rashid himself started pressuring his wife to return to Islam again. He even beat her several times, even when she was five months pregnant.
Despite the turn for the worse in their marriage, Sameda remained strong in her decision to follow Christ. “I told him I would remain faithful to Christ,” Sameda recounts, “I can’t imagine my life without Jesus any more.”
After Sameda gave birth to their daughter, her husband delivered an ultimatum: reject Christ or face divorce and lose your child. Still, Sameda refused to deny Jesus. Sadly, Rashid made good on his threat and kicked Sameda out of the house. She and her baby were forced to flee to her mother’s home in the city.
“It was so hugely stressful and such a tragedy for me,” Sameda recalls, “My beloved husband, who always seemed so kind and caring; he kicked me out of his house with a month-old baby without any means of subsistence! I hardly could reach my mother’s home.”
Now Sameda and her baby live in a small room in her mother’s house where she reflects on how locals react to her Christian faith. “People say that I am Asian born as a Muslim, and should be this all my life. They call me a betrayer of the ‘pure religion and true prophet Muhammed,’ but how can I betray something or somebody I never knew and understood? Yes, I am a Christian, but also still an Asian woman.”
To make matters worse, in the next couple of months, Sameda’s ex-husband will attempt to take her baby. This is customary in their culture where men are usually given custody after a divorce. And unfortunately, Sameda has no practical means of legal defense–only prayers that God will defend her.
When an Open Doors team visits Sameda and asks how they can support her, she says only this, “Most of all I need to be strong in my faith, I don’t want to lose it, to lose the relationship with Christ, but sometimes it is too hard. I need to have contact with other believers.”
The Open Doors provides such contact. They try to offer Sameda encouragement and support while also secretly providing items she needs like a baby stroller or Christian books. These things make Sameda’s life a little bit easier, enabling her to go out for walks or to travel to the grocery store. “Thank God for you, for your help at the right time!” She exclaims, “You brought the baby carriage which I never even dreamed of, because I had not enough money even for food. I saw once again that God is alive and he cares about His children.”
Please pray for Sameda as she is continually pressured to refuse Christ or face losing her child to her ex-husband. And pray for other young Christian women like Sameda who often don’t know any Christian men and may be similarly pressured to marry Muslim men as most girls in the country get married between the ages of 13 and 17.
You can continue to support Sameda and other believers in Central Asia and around the world by giving today.