Friday, April 20, 2007

The Face in the Photograph

Her face haunts me. She is twelve-years-old. She lives in Lahore, Pakistan. And she was recently raped.

She was raped on Easter Day. The day when Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. New life in Christ! A day of joy. A day of thankfulness.

A day when this young girl's life collapsed. And her eyes reflect it.

She was going to the shops near her home when four Muslim men attacked her and knocked her unconscious. Taking her to a local factory warehouse, for two days they did perhaps the worst thing that they could do to her. To any woman. But to a little Christian girl....

"What is wrong with these animals?" I rage. "What is wrong with the police that they had to be forced to finally register a case against the beasts who committed this unspeakable crime?"

I am sick of hearing of these kinds of attacks on Christian girls in Pakistan and Egypt. I am sick of hearing of police covering up the crimes and of Islamic courts refusing to convict the guilty, protecting the men while further humiliating the victims. I am sick of hearing the cries of the heart-broken families and seeing the sad eyes of the girls staring at me from the photographs on my computer screen.

I want to look away. I want to hear of the testimonies of joy in the midst of sorrow. I want to hear of people coming to Christ. I want to hear of forgiveness and heroic faith. I can see why one organization likes to boast that they focus on the victory while groups like VOMC focus on the suffering. Must be nice....

But I cannot look away because God does not look away. I will not look away.

This is my little sister.


Glenn Penner said...

I received the following email today from a dear brother who forwarded this to some of his colleagues in response to this blog:

Most Beloved Brethren,

I do not know if you feel like i felt, (and still feeling) when i read the weblog below - eyes moist with unshed tears. Heart heavy with sadness. I do not see the girl not only as my sister, but my daughter. I suddenly felt very cold. I wished I did not see it - ignorance is bliss, they say. But I cannot afford to look away either. It is real. It is happening so often to my brethren in many islamic nations. can you please say a prayer for the persecuted church this day? I am sure the Holy Spirit who, I believe, is making me to send this to you will Himself give you utterance in the place of prayer. May we receive grace not to look away, but to pray - seems the least we can do, but then we can be sure that when we get to heaven by His grace, we shall know that those prayers availed much. Oh Lord, have mercy on us and them!


Lawrence said...

Sometimes I am sickened and want to look away, and occasionally I have. More than anything else though I don't want to be disheartened, nor to become hateful.

Many many years ago I worked for six months in a restricted nation - a secular westerner on secular business. I met people who were subject to persecution, people who had lost family, friends (through imprisonment or execution) and lost their homes and possessions because of their beliefs or because they aroused suspicion in some way. Trapped, they were waiting their turn. Everywhere there were good people dismayed and terrified by events but frightened and powerless to stop them. The few who spoke out were silenced one way or another. For so many it was a hopeless situation and dreadful things happened then, as happen now.

This experience is with me still but, since then, has come the personal realisation that what happened, and the men and women involved, existed in a darkness that excluded God. Those who did these things were not, and are not, servants of God although they may wear His name in justification. They are evil and sick people driven by anger, hatred, greed and depravity.

VOM and Release International have shown me I can pray, write letters and cards, talk with others about what is happening. These acts are important, especially the talking, as so many have a sanitized or no understanding of the magnitude and depravity of persecution. Maybe it is the best we can do if we cannot be there. Still, sometimes, I feel like despairing because these good things are aimed at relieving the trauma, not preventing it.

What can I do to prevent it? I can support those with the tracts and bibles and whatever else it takes to put God's light into that evil darkness, and hope and courage into the hearts of those who are frightened. It was I think Pastor Wurmbrand who told the story of the bird trying to douse a forest fire with water from its beak. Am I naive? Some days I think so. Then I think of Saul of Tarsus and know there is hope. In the meantime I do the little that I can and feel grateful and encouraged to be entrusted with this task.