When Ruth*, a Muslim wife and mother of six from western Uganda, accepted Christ in 2006, she had no idea how drastically her life would change. When she excitedly told her husband, Ibrahim, of her new faith, he reacted by beating her so violently that she was forced to flee their home to a location 12 miles away. A local Muslim religious leader reacted to her pleas for help in reconciling with her husband by angrily running her off when he heard about her faith in Christ.
Alone and with no means of supporting herself, Ruth contacted the local pastor-evangelist about her situation. He was touched by her testimony and brought her plight to the attention of his senior pastor at the Church of Uganda, which stepped in and assisted her in getting accommodation. All of her six children soon decided to join her because, they said, they loved their mother and had witnessed the profound change in her life since her conversion. Soon all of her children gave their lives to Christ and Ruth began to teach them the word of God and the value of prayer.
Circumstances were difficult as Ruth became the sole breadwinner. Often they had no food and no means of getting any, but would rely on God to somehow provide. Her son testified that indeed the Lord never let her down. “She would pray and we would get food. Suddenly without her asking, someone would give her money or buy us vegetables from the market. We were fed by Jesus through prayers,” the son told Open Doors representatives who visited them recently.
Ruth did not let the breakdown of her marriage or her struggle to provide for six children derail her Christian walk; instead she spent much time in prayer and evangelizing Muslims. So strong was her evangelistic gift that she led 20 Muslims in the area to the Lord within two years.
In January 2010, Ruth was invited for a visit by a person suspected to be her husband’s relative. She drank some juice and ate snacks during that visit. Shortly after the visit she developed breathing problems, which she ineffectually attempted to treat with pain killers. Soon her stomach also began to ache, but she took more pain killers rather than visit the hospital. The chest and stomach pains persisted , when she suddenly became critically ill. Her children called the pastor, who arrived to find that her face had changed color and become very dark. The children said that she had vomited black substances.
Ruth had started feeling unwell soon after her visit with the relative, but did not initially take it seriously. Suspecting that she had been poisoned, the pastor took her to the nearby hospital right away. The doctor, confirming that she had been poisoned and indicating that her condition was life-threatening, immediately transferred her to a better-equipped hospital. Ruth lost consciousness by the time they reached the hospital. Sadly, despite the doctor’s frantic attempts to save her life, Ruth did not respond to treatment and died on January 14, 2010, a day after she was admitted to the hospital.
No post-mortem autopsy was done to identify the poison, nor was the case reported to the police. “We felt powerless,” her pastor explained to Open Doors. When Muslim leaders in her hometown refused to conduct Ruth’s burial ceremony, church officials took over the responsibility. According to her pastor, many people (including three Muslims) received Christ as Savior during the funeral service, after he related the story of Ruth’s conversion and subsequent passionate evangelism.
Ruth’s six children chose not to go back with their father after her burial, since he was adamant that he would only accept them back if they reverted to Islam. One Christian aunt took in the youngest two children, while the older four were spread out among various brethren. Though separated from one another, Ruth’s children continue strong in the faith. They attend school with the help of the church which pays part of their school fees. However, the burden is still heavy on the host families, most of them relatively poor. During this recent visit, OD representatives purchased school books for two of Ruth’s children. “I now know that God cares for us very much, and I am going to work hard in school now that I have received these books,” one of Ruth’s sons said in appreciation. Praise God that despite the loss of their mother and separation of their family, Ruth’s children continue to grow in their faith and to experience God’s provision in their lives!
*Ruth is a pseudonym used to protect her family’s identity
Lord Jesus, thank you so much for the testimony of our courageous sister, Ruth, and her children. Thank you for being their provider in the midst of uncertainty and persecution. Father, we ask that you would show yourself to Ruth’s children as their Father and protector as they face life without either of their earthly parents. Continue to strengthen and encourage them in their faith, and give them boldness to share the Gospel fearlessly as did their mother. Bless the families who, in the midst of their own poverty, have shown pure and undefiled religion by taking in these orphans in their distress. We ask also that you would bring Ibrahim to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ through the testimony of his children. In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen
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Additional Prayer Alerts
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On April 18th, two members of the al-Shabaab Muslim extremist group stormed the house of a secret believer in southern Somalia. Finding Hassan Adawe Adan, a 21-year old recent convert to Christianity, they dragged him outside and shot him to death.
Irene Namukubalo, a single mother of three, with her 4th baby due in April 2011, remains deeply traumatized by her husband’s ambush and murder last September. Your letters and cards will help this struggling Ugandan family find hope and peace at this time.