“I RECEIVED YOUR LETTERS AND CARDS WITH MUCH JOY AND LOVE”
In October 2013, unknown attackers killed Elias Lunyamila Meshack while he and two others were guarding their church in Mwanza, northern Tanzania. Sitting in the shade of a large Acacia in an undisclosed location in East Africa, Mary tells Open Doors international visitors about the pain of that loss, how God sustained her faith and the healing letters from brothers and sisters abroad that ministered to her:
Widows often suffer great loneliness. After I lost Elias, I feared that loneliness very much. I met Elias at the church I went to after I was born again. He was the chairman of the youth group. We fell in love and got married on October 11, 2009. After our wedding, life was good. I became pregnant very soon and gave birth to our firstborn son, Prosper, in July 2010. When he was three years old, I became pregnant again and gave birth to our daughter, Prisca.
Eight months later, Elias was killed. It happened on the night of October 21st. Elias came home from work, took a bath, had his dinner and then went to church around 9:00pm to guard it because there had been a spate of attacks on churches in the area at the time.
The next morning, at around 6:00am, a crowd from church knocked on my door and I knew something terrible must have happened. Our pastor told me that the church had been attacked and Elias had been beaten to death. Two others were severely injured, but survived.
When I heard the news I wailed so loudly, neighbors came to see what was going on.
For a long time afterwards I was very angry at the attackers.
Many churches have been burned. Some church leaders have been killed, others burned with acid. I wondered why we Christians had to suffering all these things to the point that the persecution reached my own family. Honestly, if I was to meet one of the attackers, I do not know what I would have done.
I was devastated at the thought of my children losing their father at such a young age. They needed their father. Single parenting is very difficult. I do my best but have much sorrow when I remember that we used to be two. Now I am alone. They killed my dreams.
I also had many questions towards God. “Why has this happened to me? Why am I left a widow at such a young age? Why me?”
But as time went by, I started reading my Bible again and eventually started accepting that my husband was gone. I realized that God loved him even more than I did. As I remembered that He too knows the pain of loss since He gave His only Son to die for us, I started blessing God.
It was hard work, but today my relationship with Him is strong – even though sometimes when I start to pray, I suddenly have a memory and cannot pray any further.
But I thank God: He gives me strength and I have seen Him act for me. I have never gone to bed hungry. I have seen day-by-day that the Lord is with me. He is with my children. He gives us strength to move on and we are doing well. And when I feel pain, when I get low, I switch on the radio and sing along to Gospel music. It eases the pain in my heart and mind.
I have been amazed by God’s goodness to me in the overwhelming support I have received. My church has been so good to me! They have not abandoned me. They continue to visit, to take care of me and the children.
The support from Open Doors has also brought great comfort. When Hadassa* visited the first time just after Elias’ funeral, she told me words from God that encouraged me. The next time she came, she brought me a big box of cards. There were so many! I was deeply comforted because they proved to me that the whole world had heard about my misfortune.
The large box of letters also caught the attention of visitors. Whenever they asked about it, I told them to take a look inside. Many liked the cards so much, they asked me if they could take a few home with them! I now have just a few left at home!
With a heart full of love, I thank each one of you who wrote to me. I received your letters and cards with much joy and love. From my heart I thank you very much.
Pray For Me
My dream for the future is to live well with my children and stand strong; as their mother, I have no choice but to be strong and do business to ensure that my children do not lack necessities. The Lord tells me that He is the lamp unto my feet and a light for my path. I know He will lead and guide me all through my life. I will walk in His ways all the days of my life and will never leave Him.
Pray with me that God will continue to strengthen me so that I will raise my children well. I know I’m still young and that is why I ask for His help to successfully raise my two children. It is hard, but I am confident that with your prayer support, I will make it and not lose hope.
*Name changed for security reasons