“Jarrar! Jarrar!” Sajjida* spoke softly, trying to wake her husband who slept on the floor by her bed. “Wake up! It’s 4am.”
She hated doing this so early, but she knew that if he did not start changing her bandaging now, he would not be ready for work in time. She wondered why his alarm had not gone off yet. She tried to look over the side of her bed, but could not roll over enough. The bombs that detonated when suicide bombers entered the All Saints Church in Peshawar had left her body severely damaged.
The putrid smell of flesh and wounds filled her nostrils. Her wounds needed to be cleaned. It was cold. She remembered the days when she would not have thought twice about curling up into a ball to fend off the bitter cold. Now she could not do it. She was entirely dependent on the help of her mother and Jarrar, the only two people who knew how to change her bandages as the doctors taught them.
Without warning, the door opened softly. Someone came in and, even with the door ajar, inexplicable warmth filled the room. Her mother had gone home, and Jarrar was fast asleep beside her. She watched, overwhelmed with fear, excitement and wonder. This peace would not have come with any ordinary visitor. Unable to say a word, Sajjida lay still, wide-eyed, as the visitor began to run his hands over the bandages.
“We are very careful in our culture about segregation,” Sajjida shared. “Men do not just walk into a woman’s room. I would never let a strange man into the room. His shawl hid his face from me. I had such peace as he touched my wounds; I could feel the touch of healing on my body. I was warm and felt clean for the first time since the attack. I began to feel rest like I had not known since the accident. Then without a word, he left the room, and as he did, the name Yesu Ji (Dear Jesus) escaped from my lips.”
An hour later, as Sajjida tried to gain control of her emotions, Jarrar woke up. He jumped out of bed, apologetic and afraid that he would be late for work. “I worried I would lose my job if I continued to miss work or come in late,”‘ Jarrar said, “But when I saw Sajjida, her bandages seemed fresh. I became confused, because I knew her mother was away, and we were the only two who knew how to dress her bandages.”
He listened in amazement as she told him about the visitor. He checked in every other family member’s room, and each one was fast asleep. “I asked them again when I got home in the evening, and they all thought I was crazy.”
These visits happened two additional times where Jesus came during the night and touched Sajiida. Each time, she would sleep unusually soundly and feel deeply rested after He had been there.
In the more than a year that has passed since the attack, Sajjida, just like hundreds of others, has had multiple surgeries. In the midst of this long recovery process, pastors and lay caregivers have regularly visited them, listened to the couple’s testimony and ministered to their post-traumatic stress needs.
“Friends are always welcome in our home. They have listened, shared, wept and laughed with us. They have shown sensitivity to our feelings that accompany the ups and downs of our journey. We are thankful for their love,” says the couple. They agree that they will walk peacefully into the years God grants them, without wavering. Jarrar exclaims, “Never turning away from my Jesus.”
*Alias names used to protect identities
Father, thank You for Your tender care over Sajjida following last year’s attack on their church. Thank You for the skillful care of the doctors and for the continued care by her mother and her husband Jarrar, as well as by the Project ALIVE staff. Most of all, we thank You for Your special care for her, and we pray that You will continue to sooth and heal her wounds. We pray also for her soul; that You will heal the painful memories and replace them with good memories of Your faithfulness and mercy. Strengthen her from Your Word. Help both her and Jarrar as they walk forward, ‘never turning away from Jesus’. It is in Your Name, the Name above all names, we pray. Amen.