"So Hagar named the LORD who spoke to her, 'You are the God who sees me,' for she said, 'Here I have seen one who sees me!'" - Genesis 16:13
Rezedah was walking down the street one night when a man accosted her. He dragged her into a room and was about to assault her when she began to pray. Although she lived in an Islamic nation, she had heard the name of Jesus: a little girl, whose parents were recent converts to Christianity, had shared with her when they were both 8 years old. Then the girl had moved to another country.
Now, ten years later, standing in this room, Rezedah remembered the Messiah. She cried out to Jesus, asking him to protect and save her.
Suddenly, she felt time stand still. The man in front of her was frozen. Standing behind this man, looking directly into her eyes, she saw Jesus.
Time unfroze. The man who wanted to assault her was moving again...but this time, his face filled with terror. "GET OUT!" he yelled to her. "PLEASE, LEAVE NOW! GO!"
She rushed out into the empty street. She still has no idea what he saw.
This isn't the end of Rezedah's story, but I want to pause before we tell the end. Because four days before I heard Rezedah's story, my friend Idil told me another story.
Its beginning is very similar. A girl is walking down a street. But for Aisha Ilyas Adan, there was a very different ending. Gang rape. Murder. The dismemberment of her abused body. She was twelve years old. Idil told me Aisha's story in a quiet voice. Then she told me her own story. Rezedah's story doesn't erase or resolve the tragedy of those who don't escape. If anything, for some, sharing these two stories in such close proximity only raises more questions. Why do some live and die in injustice, and others experience protection? This question forces us to examine what we believe about God: If he has all power, why does he restrain himself?
Where was God when Aisha was accosted?
This post can't address every question these stories might raise. But we do want to share three observations...three that have become incredibly significant to us as we reach out into this broken world.
Girls like Aisha were written about in the Bible...They have never been invisible to God. In passages like Judges 19, God records a painful parallel to her murder and degradation. And this is deeply significant, because it's given as the context for his response, spoken through the prophets. Ezekiel, Isaiah, and Jeremiah are an outcry of deep pain, anger, disgust, even horror. It's a direct expression of the heart of God. These books are also a powerful call to action - a voice telling humans to act. Stand against injustice, rescue the powerless. Love like God. Be holy because he is holy. Put your own life on the line for the sake of others: live like him. If necessary, die like him (Psalm 82:3-4, Leviticus 11:45, John 15:12-13, many more.) In giving us free will, God has chosen to (temporarily) restrain his use of power. He will come back, and he will judge. And all evil will be finally stopped. This is why we cry 'Maranatha' - Come, o Lord! But until then, his message to us is clear: Use your strength. Rise up. It shouldn't take a miracle for a girl like Aisha to be rescued: Humans should care. Humans should act. This is the direct command of God.
God has never been responsible for the evil in the world (James 1:13, 1 John 1:5). Evil can cause humans to question if God is powerful; if he's holy; if he's just; if he's good. A personal encounter with pain can lead a person to assume that one of these must not be true. Some begin to believe that God is weak; unable to stop evil. Others believe he's complicit: a partner to evil. The Word of God asserts that neither of these are true. God is absolutely powerful and absolutely holy. He is Love. He is light. In him, there is no darkness at all. His will is "good, pleasing, and perfect." And that is why we pray, "Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven." It is right to long for his will to be done. It is right to cry out with creation in sorrow over the state of this world (Romans 8:22-23.) Psalm 37:7-11 is a powerful passage to hold onto when the world looks too dark. He is coming. And his reason for perceived "slowness" is good. As you memorize Psalm 37, memorize 2 Peter 3:9 also. Hold onto what's true of our God.
3. Because the Word of God speaks to issues of deep pain, shame, violence, and fear, it's an incredibly significant message for men and women who have experienced trauma. The Word of God says that God "knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells in him" (Daniel 2:22). God understands — he intimately knows — what happens in dark corners. Christ himself experienced humiliation and violence. He chose to be injured for us to be healed. There is no being on earth or above earth who understands and is willing to enter into our suffering like God himself. It's from this position of deep understanding that God has spoken words that give Life. We carry the responsibility of sharing it. The Word of God to mankind is powerful, it's beautiful, and it exists to be heard.
Rezedah wanted to follow Jesus, but she didn't know how. And, like so many in restricted nations, she didn't know who to ask. So she started to pray.
One day, as she walked through a crowded place, she saw something that startled her. A girl seemed to be lit up: physically giving off light.
She was walking with a large group. To her surprise, they all seemed to be illuminated. She stared at them, shocked, and finally went up to the girl, who she recognized from her part of the city. "Who are these people? What are you doing here?" The girl was afraid. She didn't want to tell the truth.
Finally, she answered. "They're Christians. And I didn't want to tell you because I was afraid, but I'm a Christian too." "That's why I'm here!" Rezedah said. "I've been looking for you! Tell me about Jesus!"
To Christians who are reading this post: Please join us. There are still hundreds of thousands a click of a button away. Go to them. To Muslims who are reading this: Please contact us. We would love to share with you who Jesus is, and what he did for us. You can call us at 888-446-5457, or write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.