This post is a bit of a departure from my usual here at Filed Under Potpourri. I want to address freedom. As an American, freedom is one of those buzzwords that we use that has thrown around so much that I think its meaning has become somewhat altered. It is certainly something that is taken for granted. But, freedom of what? Freedom for what? The First Amendment of the U. S. Constitution reads that
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
Freedom of religion of one’s choosing. Freedom to practice said religion. Freedom of conscience. These rights, which are taken for granted here in the United States, are not present anywhere abroad to the extent that they are here at home.
Perhaps nobody is more aware of the lack of these freedoms at the moment than Meriam Ibrahim. You may have heard of her. She’s the 27-year-old woman in Sudan who was sentenced to death by hanging on 15 May 2014 for the crime of being a Christian. She refused to recant and convert to Islam. She has also been sentenced to a brutal flogging for the crime of “adultery,” which she has not committed in the dictionary sense. Because she married a Christian man, her marriage has been declared null and void. Since she has had relations with her husband, a non-Muslim, she is to receive 100 lashes after she delivers her baby.
Did I mention that she is 8 months pregnant? Or that her 20-month-old son is in prison with his mother? Or that her husband is not allowed to get custody of his children? Or that her husband and said children are American citizens?
The levels of wrong here are so many and run so deep.
As a mother with a couple of very small boys, my heart is breaking for the tiny boy in prison with his mother. He can’t possibly understand what’s going on, or why his momma is being hurt, or why he can’t be with his daddy. An older child would barely be able to understand it, but he’s just a baby still. There is apparently good reason to worry that he will be executed as well.
As a pregnant woman, I cannot even begin to fathom the pain and mental anguish she is experiencing. Not only is she being denied medical treatment, she is shackled and has been beaten and tortured in prison. She knows that as soon as she delivers her baby, which is supposed to be a joyous occasion, she is going to face a horrific beating. She knows that as soon as her baby is weaned, she is going to die.
As an American, I feel nothing but rage that her husband has been unable to get a spousal visa for his wife and that as of yet, no real action is being taken by the State Department on either Meriam’s or their two children’s behalf.
As a Christian, I can’t feel anything but horror at the choice facing her. What would I do in her place? I hope that I would be as courageous as she was and refuse to disavow my beliefs in order to save my own life. But, then I look at my precious family and my heart sinks. I am reminded of the Apostle Peter who denied Jesus three times in order to save himself. How could I face God if I did recant? How would I be able to say goodbye to my husband and babies if I didn’t?
In Matthew 16:24-26 (NIV), Jesus told His disciples that
“’Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?'”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote that that
“The cross is not random suffering, but necessary suffering. The cross is not suffering that stems from natural existence; it is the suffering that comes from being Christian.”
Meriam Ibraham gets it.
No matter what your personal beliefs are, I hope that you will read up on Meriam Ibrahim, her husband Daniel Wani, their son Martin, and their unborn baby. There are some links below…they are by no means exhaustive, but I hope that they provide you with a good start.
From Morning Star News: Pregnant Woman in Sudan Could Be Executed for ‘Apostasy,’ Whipped for ‘Adultery’
From Townhall: The Real War on Women?
Also from Townhall: Pregnant Sudan Christian Mother Sentenced to Hang to Death
Please pray for this family, who is experiencing a nightmare unlike any that we as Americans are likely to face at this point in our history. If you can, please speak out against what is happening to Meriam at the BeHeard Project. Share her story on social media…Facebook…on Twitter…however you can to whoever you can. Please pray that the State Department will intervene. Above all, pray for Meriam to stay strong and to know God’s peace.