Thursday, December 29, 2011

Meet Hiba

Confession:  I have not been faithful in my prayers this week.  It's the holidays.  We were out of town for the week.  There is so much to do.  My excuses sound hollow.  And they are.

Determined to start anew, I begin by opening the weekly persecution alert email in my inbox.  I have been quite successfully ignoring its presence for over a week.  My faithlessness is glaring in the shadows of these great men and women who serve our Lord amidst immense opposition.

Perhaps because of this, I read the stories quickly.  There are many this week, but I have much to do.  My house is dirty, the laundry is piling, the Christmas decorations need to come down.  It seems excuses circle my every action.

And then God has me meet Hiba.  My rapid reading slows.  I stop.  Reread.  Can it be that she is only 16 and possesses so much faith?  So much love?  I click for more information.  God changes me.  Again.

Isn't she beautiful?  Hiba is a believer from the predominantly Muslim nation of Sudan.  Last year when Hiba was but 15 years old, she was abducted by a gang of Muslim men.  Her life since then is hard to fathom.

Locked in a room.  Beaten until unconscious.  Raped.  Moved to various locations to keep her hidden.  All because she refused to convert to Islam.  Her faith remained strong.  I think of 15 year-old me.  Could I have withstood it?  At double her age, could I even do it now?

She endured this torture for a year until she escaped and was reunited with her family.  Her family took her to the police to file a report and were refused.  Hiba was told the police would only open the case if she converted to Islam.

Hiba's own words have captured my heart and prayers:

"I cannot forget this bad incident, and whenever I try to pray, I find it difficult to forget. I ask believers to pray for me for inner healing."

She says she is praying that Jesus reveals himself to her assailants, and "forgives them for what they did to me."

My prayers flow for her.  So much pain.  My prayers for her captors rise in my heart, as well.  So much hate.  God can heal both.  God can heal Sudan.

There is great conflict for Christians in Sudan.  Much of the Muslim population seeks to eradicate Christianity from its borders.  Tortures, mutilations, massacres, and forced conversions are common.  Praise God that despite this, the number of Christians is growing from 1.6 million in 1980 to 11 million in 2010.

To receive weekly updates on persecution around the world, you can go to the following website and click sign up on the right hand side.  Prepare to be humbled and changed.


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Christmas Traditions

As a child, our family had more traditions than cousins, and that's saying a lot.  They were these wonderful memories that we repeated over and over again.  They added stability, security, even love to my childhood.

One of our Christmas traditions was filling a decorated lunch sack with food for Santa's reindeer.  It was a small thing we did, but I loved it.  I want my children to have scads of traditions in their lives.  Hitherto, the making of Reindeer Food bags at Sunrise School.

"Tis the night before Christmas.
Santa will soon be here.
We give cookies to Santa,
Now let's feed his reindeer."

Making the bags was cheap, fun, and easy.  (Those are my three requirements for doing most anything involving children.)  Painting with seven preschoolers vs. two adults was the fun part.  Put paint on kids hands and they are downright giddy. 

Even more fun was the filling of the bags.  I opened the littlest Sunrise Girl's bag to find it filled mostly with rocks.  Perhaps next week's lesson should address this misconception.

What could be more fun, you ask?  How about Eskimo kisses with Rudolph noses.  Again - cheap, fun, and easy.  Mental note:  if you leave red washable marker on your nose for an entire day, it is not so "washable."

The following is late-breaking news from Sunrise School.  I think Tori's is my favorite this go round.  It produces so many different scenarios in my head.

Did she watched the movie, How to Train Your Dragon, while she was in the kitchen?  Was she in a hallucinogenic state?  Were her three brothers in the kitchen acting as only preteen/teen boys can?  Was her mother cooking?  I attempted to gain some clarification from the source, but to not avail.  You must also draw your own conclusions.