Girls in Sameda’s* country are ususally married between the ages of 13 and 17. There is great pressure to marry and little opportunity for Christian women like Sameda to meet godly Christian men. When Sameda* was 23, she decided to accept a local man’s proposal and 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 began to ask more questions 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, his 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 beat her several times, even when she was five months pregnant. 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 anymore.”
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.
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 am 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. 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.”
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.”
Sameda’s home with her mother, younger sister and small baby is a narrow room of the old hostel, without water or gas in the capital city of her country. The authorities refused to give them a new flat with good conditions because they are Christians. A couple of weeks ago her mother Ariza* had a stroke. She is recovering, but is still too weak and cannot walk normally.
It is very hard for Sameda, her mother and sister to stand in faith. There is no official church in the city, so they can only communicate with believers when the Open Doors team visits.
*Name changed for security.
Father, You have lifted Sameda out of the miry pit of destruction, set her feet on Christ the Rock, and have given her a new song (Ps 40). We pray now that You will continue to sustain her, and her baby, her mother and her sister. Bring healing to her mother, sustain them with food and shelter, and work a miracle in her life that she might keep her baby daughter. Daily lift them up and encourage them with Your presence. Take the meager access they have to Your Word and use it in mighty ways to sustain their hope and give them hearts of compassion to those around them. We even pray boldly for her ex-husband, that he will be humbled before You and turn in repentance. And we pray for other young women in this nation who are pressured to marry at a young age. We pray for young men to be turned to faith and righteousness, that they may be godly husbands for these women. In the name of Jesus, our heavenly Bridegroom who is preparing us—HIs bride, the church—to stand before Him in perfect beauty and righteousness. Amen.