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July 2, 2012

When Evil Comes Home God Speaks Through Our Sorrow

Ali, a married Muslim man in his early forties, had two children in Iraq. He had an eighteen-year old daughter, Amina, and a twelve-year old son, Malik. His wife Shada became interested in Christianity. She started going to one of the underground churches. When Ali found out, he tried to persuade his wife to abandon Christianity and return to Islam. After a couple years of persuasion Shada his wife refused and secretly became baptized as a Christian. Ali her husband found out about his wife’s conversion to Christianity. He became very angry. He started to look for a way to punish his wife for abandoning Islam. One day, Ali was approached by a group who later recruited him as a suicide bomber. For a month Ali went through the training and the brainwashing. He was taught that killing other non-believers, as a suicide bomber was an honorable death for Islamic cause. Ali told his problem to one of the group members who had recruited him as a suicide bomber. He was told that killing his wife was an honorable thing to do for Islam. Ali therefore crafted a plan. He then thought about getting his children out of the house and blowing himself up in the house with his wife. For about six months he wrestled with the idea and trying to convince himself. One day he approached one of the people in the group to kidnap his wife from his house. The plan was set for the day Ali himself was sent as a suicide bomber to another location in Iraq.

Ali planned to get his children out of the house early that morning when his wife would be alone in the house. The men were to kidnap the wife, take her to another location out of the house, and kill her. They were never to kidnap her before the children. Ali had a plan to get his children out of the house the day his wife was to be kidnapped. Once the wife was alone, those people assigned to kill her because she became a Christian would go into action. Ali left the house on the fateful day to be strapped with suicide vest with bombs. Two things went wrong that day. Ali’s brother supposed to come and take Ali’s children out of the house forgot. He was supposed to return them to the house three hours later after the mother had been kidnapped. Early that morning Shada, Ali’s wife had gone to early Morning Prayer meeting in underground church leaving her kids in the house. When the kidnappers arrived, they did not see Ali’s wife. They ransacked the house thinking she was hiding, but they could not find her. In a way to punish Shada for converting to Christianity, they strapped Amina to bed in front of her brother who had been severely beaten. Five of them took turn raping Ali’s eighteen-year old daughter, Amina. They left the house and promised to come back another day to kill Shada.

Prior to Ali going to blow up himself at a designated location, he stopped back at his house to see his children for the last time. He was shocked to see the horror of what was left by the intended kidnappers. Ali entered the bedroom of his daughter to see her still spread eagle tied to the bed. Amina was still weeping. She was in bed completely naked with the residue of the rape all over her. Ali’s eyes bulged out in shocked as he stood before his daughter’s bed watching with horror the result of the assault of the kidnappers. Ali was very devastated! A few minutes later, Shada his wife came to the room and started screaming and weeping. She saw what had happened to her daughter and son after she had left for the prayer meeting that morning.

On seeing what these men had done to his son and daughter, Ali changed his mind, unstrapped the suicide vest and disposed the vest and the bombs that evening. He refused to carryout the suicide mission assigned to him. With the help of Shada’s pastor, Amina was taken to hospital where she remained in treatment for about three weeks. Ali moved his family out of the house that night so that the kidnappers would not find them when they return to kill his wife. Ali went to live with his brother and kept his family in hiding for about three months in another location to keep them safe.

Shada’s pastor secretly visited Ali in his brother’s house. It was that time that Ali confessed to the plot of killing his wife to get even with her because she had become a Christian. The day the kidnappers came to the house was the day Shada went to a Christian prayer meeting. Ali was so heart broken. He saw the evil in the acts of these people against his daughter and son. The kidnappers action convinced Ali that the people in that group were not serving God; otherwise they could not have done what they did to his children. After Shada’s pastor visited Ali for about three months, Ali joined the underground church and became a Christian. However, the pastor did not tell Shada about her husband’s confession. Ali changed his name to Adam. He was only able to read hate in the hearts of those who brutalized his son and daughter. With Christianity, he experienced the true love of God through Christ. Through this incident Ali, now Adam found the true God of love in Christianity. The part of the Bible that grabbed his attention was in proverb where God said he hated the shedding of the innocent blood (Proverb 6:17). Ali (Adam) believed if he had carried out that suicide attack, he would have died and went straight to hell. He did not persecute Islam as a religion, but he questioned the political motive of killing innocent people to achieve personal political gains. He claimed he could no longer be a part of such a religion any longer. Ali (Adam) became a Christian preacher, and moved his entire family to Lebanon where many Middle Eastern Christians live in freedom and in peace.

Later after they escaped to Lebanon with his wife and two children Amina and Malik, Ali (Adam) made a confession to his wife Shada. He told her about being responsible for the physical assault on his children while they were living in Iraq. Shada was very shocked and devastated. She became very angry with her husband. She immediately took her children and moved to another house leaving her husband alone. For two years Shada did not want anything to do with her husband. In spite, Ali (Adam) continued to preach as a Christian preacher. One day one of Shada’s Christian friends in Lebanon invited her to a Christian gathering. Shada did not have an idea who was going to be preaching. At this Christian gathering, the pastor preached about forgiveness for forty-five minutes using the story of the Prodigal Son in the Bible. Shada’s friends watched as she wept through the whole sermon while sitting in the audience. After the sermon was over one of her friends asked why she was weeping so much. It was then she told them the shocking truth that the pastor that was preaching used to be her husband, Ali. She told them she had not seen him in two years.

The statement that hit Shada very hard from the sermon was, "If Jesus is able to forgive me, why is a person unable to forgive?" He told them the story of confession and how he brought his family from Iraq to Lebanon. Ali, now Pastor Adam did not know that his ex-wife was in the audience the day he preached about forgiveness. Shada went to visit with Pastor Adam her ex-husband. It was an emotional meeting when Shada met her ex-husband at his pastor’s office. She told him that after listening to his sermon and how he became a Christian, she believed he had actually changed. She was therefore compelled in her heart to forgive him. Shada gave her ex-husband an update about their two kids. The next question was would she come back to him? Pastor Adam popped the question. Shada responded that she had another man in her life and was unwilling to end the relationship. Her husband said he had been unable to get involve in any relationship with any female since the wife left. He said he felt so guilty about what had happened to his children in Iraq. Pastor Adam told his wife that if she found peace in her relationship with the other man, that she should continue. He said he would find himself another wife. Pastor Adam, asked his ex-wife for her blessing if he would find another woman to marry him. Shada, his ex-wife was unwilling to release her ex-husband to marry another woman. She refused to let go. A week later, Shada returned to her husband and the family including her two children came back together again. The family was reunited after painful tragedies.

What a great story of forgiveness? Sometimes God uses our mess to create supernatural deliverance and atonement. In the Middle Eastern culture, it is very hard for a husband to receive his wife back after she had been with another man. But, how difficult was it for the wife to forgive a husband who planned her kidnapping and murder that eventually failed? "Is there anything too hard for the Lord?" (Genesis 18:14).

Yinka Vidal, author, Closer Walk With Jesus