This is going to sound like a sad thankful Thursday, but I am just overwhelmed with gratitude for living in Canada instead of some of the hellholes in the world today. Especially as a Christian. Here we have the freedom to pray, worship, evangelize, speak, raise our kids the way we want to, and meet with who we want to. We can have dreams for our kids which will, in all likelihood, be fulfilled. And all of that is because of the rich Christian heritage that our continent has had.
I read this story recently out of Pakistan, and last night I couldn't sleep praying for these two girls. Listen to this:
Saba Younas, aged 13, and her sister Anila were kidnapped last June 26 in the village of Chowk Munda, in the province of Punjab, where they had gone to visit their uncle, Khalid Raheel. This is the same uncle who in recent days reported their kidnapping, asking for help from news organisations and human rights groups.
According to Raheel's account, a Muslim fruit vendor named Muhammad Arif Bajwa kidnapped the girls, and then handed them over to a friend, Falak Sher Gill, who then organised the marriage between his own son and the older of the Christian sisters, Saba. In court, moreover, father and son both stressed the "complete willingness of the girl to contract marriage". The girls' uncle does not conceal his preoccupation, and denounces to AsiaNews that the Muslims involved in the kidnapping are acting as a "gang", recruiting the girls in order to "make them work in a bordello". This alarm has also been heard by the Catholic commission for justice and peace (NCJP) in the country, which confirms the words of Khalid Raheel: the kidnappers are believed to be human traffickers linked to prostitution, known to the police and under the protection of some local politicians. "For these unscrupulous people", charges Naeem Asghar, local coordinator of the NCJP, marriage is a pretence in order to control the girls, run their lives and exploit them for their own business purposes".
Basically, the father and the uncle took the Muslims to court, where the Muslim "husband" of the 13-year-old argued that the two had converted to Islam and had no wish to return to their parents. The judge, a prominent Muslim, took their word for it.
Imagine being in their parents' shoes: you know your daughters are going to be repeatedly raped and told to renounce their religion, and there's nothing you can do.
My daughters are 13 and 10. They are innocent. They are fun-loving. They are wonderful. I cannot imagine such horrors being perpetrated on them.
And yet, for so many girls around the world, that is life. Increasingly the Coptic Christians are being persecuted in the same way. Kidnapping pre-teen Christian girls, forcing them to convert, and then marrying them off is quite common.
All I can think of is the Bible verse: "and if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to be thrown into th sea with a large millstone tied around his neck." (Luke 9:42). I guess that's not entirely true, because I don't believe these two little girls have sinned if they were coerced into anything. But they have been horribly hurt, and so I pray that God will fulfill His promise here.
And I feel so blessed that my daughters are free from that. Why did God choose us to live here, and not there? That must give us a profound sense of calling to use the resources we do have to make this world a better place, rather than spend our resources on ourselves. We are blessed, but we aren't to hoard the blessing, not when we have so much more than so many do. If I could think of any way to help poor Saba and Anila, I would do it. Any suggestions?
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Labels: Islam, social issues