Date: September 12, 2020
‘Then young women will dance and be glad, young men and old as well. I will turn their mourning into gladness; I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow.’ (Jeremiah 31:13)
As Christians we’re profoundly aware that the life we now live is one marred by suffering. Yes, we rejoice at the good we find in the world and praise God every time we see justice prevailing, good overcoming evil, sinners repenting. At the same time, we weep when we see the sorrow and suffering around us.
But we know with complete certainty that this time of suffering will in time come to an end, and that the joy we encounter in this life – a foretaste of the eternal life we so long for – will finally be complete.
Last week we received some news which was deeply joyful, yet desperately heartbreaking at the same time. Maira Shahbaz, a 14-year-old Christian girl from Faisalabad, Pakistan, who had been abducted earlier this year, has managed to escape from her kidnapper and has been reunited with her family.
On 28 April Maira was abducted at gunpoint by two men while she was on her way home. She was then forcibly married to Mohamad Nakash, a Muslim businessman who was already married, and repeatedly raped.
On 28 July the local court dismissed Mr Nakash’s claims that Maira had agreed to the marriage, ordering her to be placed in a women’s shelter. But a week later, on 4 August, the Lahore High Court overturned that decision and ruled in favour of Maira’s abductor, claiming that she had willingly converted to Islam and consented to the marriage. In the process, the court ignored statements from three eyewitnesses who testified that she had resisted the abduction.
We thank God that Maira has now managed to escape her captor; though she and her family are still living in an undisclosed location and continue to fear for their safety. In Pakistan, over 1,000 Christian and Hindu girls are abducted each year. Tragically, the vast majority never return to their families.
This week, pray the verse at the top of this email over Maira and all Christian and Hindu girls abducted in Pakistan.
In summary, please pray:
- Thanking God that Maira has managed to escape, and pray that she wouldn’t be overcome by trauma or fear of being recaptured.
- For all Christian and Hindu girls in Pakistan who are abducted, forcibly converted and forced into marriage.
- For the justice system in Pakistan; that the courts would rule fairly, seek the truth at all times, and not disadvantage minority faith groups.
- That everyone in Pakistan would be free to practise their religion of choice, without fearing for their own safety.