Blinded But Not Defeated

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In June 2011, Rumana Monzur’s visit to Bangladesh turned into a nightmare when her husband, the father of her child viciously attacked her.  He robbed her of her sight and disfigured her face because she wanted to pursue a higher education in Canada.   “He has made my world dark.  I can’t see my daughter,” she told Bangladeshi newspaper, The Daily Star.  She couldn’t see her daughter’s face.  He was arrested days after the attack. Doctors were able to reconstruct her face but they couldn’t restore her eyesight.

Her world was plunged in perpetual darkness.  She underwent psychological counseling. Her story captured headlines and the world watched as she courageously recovered from her ordeal.  A month after the attack she moved back to Vancouver with her daughter.   Two years later she finished her Master’s degree and decided to pursue law.

On Wednesday, May 24, 2017, Rumana received her law degree.  As she stood there, trying not to cry as she said goodbye to the University of British Columbia which had been her home and a source of solace and strength to her for seven years, she admitted to crying a lot during the first 18 months.   It was a challenge not being able to read any more and having to be helped around the campus.  But she soon realized that she just had to keep going and what encouraged her was how nice the people on campus were toward her.

As a little girl, Rumana had dreams of becoming a pilot which for her would have been very liberating and free.  However, she chose, instead rising sea levels and environmentalism as her field of study because Bangladesh, more than most places, is at risk from climate change.   Then, her world changed in 2011 when she returned to Dhaka to tell her husband, Syeed Hasan Sumon that she wanted a divorce.  He reacted by trying to rip her eyes out with his hands, biting off the end of her nose and ripping flesh off of her cheeks and one arm.  He told her, “I wanted to kill you with acid, but good for you I couldn’t find any.” He died in custody of an apparent heart attack six months after the vicious assault while awaiting trial for attempted murder.

Why didn’t Rumana leave this abusive marriage earlier?  She explained why in an interview.  “It is hard to have the courage to stand up to social norms, social stigma,” she said. “That mindset that if we talked about it it’s shameful for yourself, it’s not at all like that. I thought like that too, that if I share it with anyone it’s a shame for myself.  I wanted to look like I was happy in my marriage, that made me socially acceptable, that’s what I thought.”  It is truly sad when the abused feels shame when it should be the abuser who should.

Rumana wants the women in abusive relationships to know that they have options. “The power has to come from within. I didn’t have the courage to stand up for myself for a long, long time, and look how I ended up, right? I paid a huge price. I want them to know their lives are precious and they should not accept something which deteriorates their capacity and potential. Life is full of opportunities, they need to know there is always a way out of those abusive and brutal relationships, it’s not their fate.  Not only women — men, children and elderly people, violence is not something worth tolerating, you need to get out of it as soon as possible.”

It is my hope and prayer that women in abusive relationships will leave the first opportunity they get to do so.  No marriage or relationship is worth risking your life for.  As the Bible says, women are created in God’s image and are of great value to Him.  A woman was meant to be a man’s companion, helper, supporter, etc. to be loved and appreciated.  She is not to be trampled on, abused, mistreated, neglected, discarded or devalued.  And success is not supposed to be gender bias.  Success comes from the Lord and it is for everyone.  It takes a special kind of man who wouldn’t feel threatened by his wife’s success and aspirations but will offer her his complete support.

What kept Rumana going after she was blinded and brutalized? “What I told myself is, ‘You have three options now,’ ” she said with a smile. “I told myself, ‘You just fell in the garbage, what can you do now?’ Either I can stay there, or I can try to stand up slowly, or I can stand up as quickly as possible and start to move forward.  As you can see, the last option was the most acceptable and so I chose that. I didn’t want to stay in that garbage. I didn’t want to lose hope.”

Kudos to Rumana for her courage and her determination not to remain down but to stand up quickly and move forward.  She wrote the exam for law when everyone thought she was crazy for doing that and today, she’s a lawyer with the federal Justice Department.  You have to admire the tenacity of this phenomenal woman.

Sources:  The Daily Star; Vancouver Sun;

Patience

But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing – James 1:4

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I was looking over some notes I had taken on one of Dr. Charles Stanley’s sermons on patience.  This sermon was preached at the time when God was working with me to help me to be more patient.

I learnt the following things about patience:

  • It is essential to a life of obedience
  • It gains the respect of others
  • It is a strong form of protection
  • It is essential in persevering in prayer
  • It is key to your success in life
  • It creates a sense of stability in your life
  • It enables us to endure suffering
  • It is essential to peace, joy and contentment
  • It allows us to see God at work
  • It is an attribute of God

I have to remember that God is in control and working things out for my good.  I have to be willing to wait.  Difficulties always drive me to Him because I know that He is the only One who can take care of me.

Dr. Stanley said that the more patient we are the more God can trust us with.  God loves us so much that He is protecting us from what He knows is not best for us.

When we pray and ask for something, if it is for us God is working on it.  He is arranging the situation, person and putting everything into place.

Right now I am going through a tough situation and it seems that there is no relief in sight.  I was beginning to develop a self-defeatist attitude but the Holy Spirit snapped me out of it.  Now, I am encouraged to look at difficulties as opportunities of God working in my life to make me more like Jesus, more useful to Him and to others.”  When we go through trials, we can in turn around help people who are going to the same thing.

When you are hurting, you want immediate relief.  It doesn’t always happen that way.  Sometimes you have to wait.  In order to develop patience, you have to let go of the need for immediate gratification.  I have to calmly accept what God wants to give, when He wants to give it and accepting when I don’t get what I want.  I have to be willing to wait for God’s timing and purpose.  The greater the blessing God has in store for me, the greater the patience He requires.  Dr. Stanley said, “It is better to be married at 45 and be happy than to be married at 25 and miserable for the next.”

I have to remember that patience is developed through trials.  Faith and patience are intermingled.  When we see how God takes us through difficulties, our faith grows stronger.  As our faith grows stronger we become more patient.  We know that God will work things out in time.

Dr. Stanley said that patience develops in proportion to my belief that God is in absolute control of my life.  I can trust Him and be patient and watch Him work.  When we wait on God we acknowledge His lordship and affirm our faith.

Dr. Stanley made a very good point.  “You do not become patient by praying for it”.  I prayed for patience but it was through difficulties that I developed it.  You won’t develop patience if you don’t have reason to be patient.  Waiting helps you to exercise patience.   Sometimes God puts people in our lives who try our patience.   Dealing with these people will help us to learn to be more patient.

Instead of allowing the situation to get the better of me, I will say, “Lord, even though I cannot see the end result I know that something good will come out of this because of You said to me, ‘Be patient and wait on the Lord who only has the best planned for you’”.

The Unknown God

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Photo:  Joe Walsh Tours

“Men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are very religious;  for as I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription:  TO THE UNKNOWN GOD…” – Acts 17:22, 23

One of my favorite sermons of the apostle Paul’s was the one he made at the Areopagus.  When he was in Athens and he saw the idols, he was provoked.  He wasted no time talking to the people, both Jews and Gentiles about Jesus and His resurrection.  That got the attention of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers and they were curious about what he was talking about.  Some called him a “babbler” while others perceived that he was preaching about foreign gods.  So, they took him to the Areopagus and asked him, “what this new doctrine is of which you speak?  For you are bringing some strange things to our ears. Therefore we want to know what these things mean.”  That’s how they spent their time–standing around and telling about or listening to new things.

This was a perfect opportunity for Paul to talk to them about the true God whom they called, “the unknown God”.  So, he stood in their midst and with the guidance of the Holy Spirit whom Jesus said would “teach you in that very hour what you ought to say” (Luke 12:12).  Paul starts out by acknowledging that the people were very religious and that he was considering the objects of their worship.  He mentioned the altar with the inscription:  TO THE UNKNOWN GOD.  He then proceeded to tell them about the God whom they were worshipping in ignorance.

God who made the world and all that is in it, being Lord of both Heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by human hands, nor is he ministered to by human hands, as though he had need of anything—seeing that he is the one who gives to all men life and breath and everything else.” 

Unlike the other gods, we shouldn’t imagine God as being like gold, silver, or stone, or is an image carved by humans using their own imagination and skill. Idols cannot see, hear, talk or move.  They have to be taken up and carried around.  Why would anyone worship gods made by people when they could worship the true, living God? 

Paul informed his audience that “God tolerated man’s past ignorance about these things, but now he commands everyone to put away idols and worship only him.  For he has set a day for justly judging the world by the man he has appointed, and has pointed him out by bringing him back to life again” (Acts 17:22:31). 

When he mentioned the resurrection, some of the people laughed but others wanted to hear more.  A few, however, joined him and became believers, among them was Dionysius, a member of the court of Areopagus and a woman named Damaris

When it comes to sharing our faith with others, we will encounter the skeptics and opposition but we will also find those who will believe and accept the message.  What Paul did that day was worth the ones who wanted to hear more and the few who believed.  God will present us with opportunities to tell others about Him.  We just have to be open and willing like Paul.

Sources:  Bible Gateway; Blue Letter Bible

Rebecca Lee Crumpler

She changed the face of medicine

Rebecca Lee Crumpler

It was being raised by a kind aunt who spent much of her time caring for sick neighbors and her desire to relieve the suffering of others which led Rebecca Lee Crumpler down the a career path that would earn her the distinction of being the first African American woman physician in the United States.   In doing so, she rose to and overcame the challenge which prevented African Americans from pursuing careers in medicine.

Rebecca, a bright girl, attended the West-Newton English and Classical School in Massachusetts, a prestigious private school as a “special student”.  In 1852 she moved to Charleston, Massachusetts where she worked as a nurse.  In 1860, she took a leap of faith and applied to medical school and was accepted into the New England Female Medical College.

The college was founded by Drs. Israel Tisdale Talbot and Samuel Gregory in 1848 and in 1852,  accepted its first class of women, 12 in number.  However, Rebecca proved that their assertions were false when, in 1864, she earned the distinction being the first African American woman to earn an M.D. degree and  the college’s only African American graduate.  The college closed in 1873.

In 1864, a year after her first husband, Wyatt Lee died, Rebecca married her second husband, Arthur Crumpler.   She began a medical practice in Boston.   In 1865, after the Civil War ended, the couple moved to Richmond, Virginia, where she found “the proper field for real missionary work, and one that would present ample opportunities to become acquainted with the diseases of women and children.”  She joined other black physicians caring for freed slaves who would otherwise would not have access to medical care.  She worked with the Freedmen’s Bureau, missionary and community groups in the face of intense racism which many black physicians experienced while working in the postwar South.

Racism, rude behavior and sexism didn’t diminish Rebecca’s zeal and valiant efforts to treat a “very large number of the indigent and others of different classes in a population of over 30,000 colored”.  She declared that “at the close of my services in that city, I returned to my former home, Boston where I entered into the work with renewed vigor, practicing outside, and receiving children in the house for treatment, regardless, in measure, of remuneration.”

The couple lived in a predominantly African American neighborhood in Beacon Hill where she practiced medicine.  In 1880, she and her husband moved to Hyde Park.  It was believed that at that time she was no longer in active practice but she did write a “A Book of Medical Discourses in Two Parts”,  the first medical publication by an African American.  The book consisted of two parts.  The first part focused on “treating the cause, prevention, and cure of infantile bowel complaints, from birth to the close of the teething period, or after the fifth year.” The second section contained “miscellaneous information concerning the life and growth of beings; the beginning of womanhood; also, the cause, prevention, and cure of many of the most distressing complaints of women, and youth of both sexes.”

Rebecca Lee Crumpler died in Hyde Park on March 9, 1895.  Notes to Women wishes to celebrate this brave woman who had the tenacity to pursue a career in medicine, proving that women can change the face of a field which many wanted to bar her from because of color and gender.  Her passion to help alleviate the suffering of others was what led her to take this path.  Her courage and perseverance in the face of racism, sexism paved the way for many, not only African Americans and women but for those who like her, will seek every opportunity to relieve the sufferings of others.

Rebecca Lee Crumpler’s story is a reminder to all of us that we should never let anything or anyone prevent us from pursuing our dreams.

Selfish prudence is too often allowed to come between duty and human life – Rebecca Lee Crumpler

Sources:  Changing the Face of Medicine; PBS

Cade/Untrodden #writephoto

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Photo by Sue Vincent

Cade lived on his own in a condo in the heart of downtown Toronto.  This wasn’t always the case, though.  He was married once and had a daughter but one day tragedy struck.  While he was out trapping lines, his wife and their eleven month old daughter had just returned from a walk when they were attacked by a bear.  Neither survived the attack. He returned home to find the animal still there and when it charged at him, he shot it.  He found their lifeless bodies and was overcome with grief.  The community reeled from this tragic incident and rallied around him.

He sold the cabin and moved to Toronto.  He wanted to be as far away as possible from where the tragedy occurred.  He never returned to the Yukon or the cabin again.  Too many painful memories and he was bombarded with self-recrimination.  It had been his idea for Joan to spend part of her maternity leave at the secluded cabin.  They would have been safer at their house in Whitehorse.  He blamed himself for what happened.  Joan and Chrissy would still be alive if it weren’t for him.

Moving to Ontario was the best decision he had made.  He stayed with family until he found a job and was able to afford his own place.  He worked for a construction company and became fast friends with the men who worked there.  They were always inviting him to something or the other so he didn’t have time to be lonely.

Ten years had passed since he lost Joan and Chrissy but he still thought about them.  He no longer blamed himself for what happened, however, he still couldn’t bring himself to return to Whitehorse.  There was nothing there for him, anyway.  His life was here now.  His friends were always setting him up with their female friends and relatives and occasionally he would go out on dates but nothing serious ever developed.  He wasn’t ready for a serious relationship, anyway.

He was walking in the park now.  It was a cold morning.  The snow was like a thick white blanket covering the path.  It was quiet.  Hardly anyone was around.  Not many people would venture out on a cold day like today but he loved it.  The air was fresh and crisp.  The coat he was wearing was nice and warm.  His head was covered and the scarf covered his nose and mouth.  He was dressed for this.

After he finished his walk, he decided to go to Tim Horton’s for a hot chocolate.  As he pushed open the door to go inside, he heard someone call his name.  He turned.  It was Roshawna.  She smiled.  “Hi, there.  Didn’t expect to run into you.”

He smiled.  “I could say the same about you,” he replied.  “I would have thought that you would be indoors on a day like today.”

“Yes, it’s pretty cold but I had errands to run.  Before heading home, I thought I’d stop in here and grab a hot chocolate to take the chill off.  What’s your excuse?”

“I didn’t want to be cooped up all day so I decided to go for a walk in the park.”

“You’re a Canadian through and through.  I’ll never get used to this cold and I’ve been living here for years now.”

“Why would you leave sunny and hot Jamaica to come here, then?”

“Better opportunities.”

“Are you in a hurry to get home?”

She shook her head.

“Let’s have our hot chocolates over there by the window.”

“Okay.”

“So, how’s life?” he asked when they were sitting at the table, steaming hot chocolates in front of them.  He liked Roshawna.  She was a live wire.  She was the younger sister of one of his friends.  They met at her brother’s barbecue last year.

“Life’s been busy.  I got a new job at a publishing company.  How about you?  I haven’t seen you in a while.  Been staying out of trouble?”

He laughed.  “What kind of trouble could I get into?”

She smiled.  “With your looks, you can get into all sorts of trouble.  Are you dating anyone?”

“No, not at the moment.”

“Good.  I’m not dating anyone either.”

“Good.”

“Are you busy later?”

“No.”

“How would you like some good home cooked Jamaican food?”

“My mouth’s watering at the thought.”

“Good.  My place tonight at seven.”

“I’ll be there.”

That settled, they talked about other things while having their hot chocolates.

This story was inspired by the tragic true story of a mother and her ten month old infant who were recently attacked and killed by a bear just outside of Whitehorse in the Yukon.  The father wasn’t there at the time of the attack but when he returned, the bear was still there and attacked him.  He managed to shoot and kill it.

This was written for the #writephoto Prompt – Untrodden at Sue Vincent’s Daily Echo.

Source:  AOL

Not One of the Crowd

Then I said, “I will not make mention of Him, Nor speak anymore in His name.”
But His word was in my heart like a burning fire Shut up in my bones; I was weary of holding it back, And I could not – Jeremiah 20:9

Do you sometimes feel like the prophet Jeremiah? He was called to be a prophet. Life for him was not at all easy. He couldn’t marry and have a family. His community hated him and they didn’t want to hear what he had to say because his messages were of doom and gloom. They were probably thinking, “who does he think he? These were people he grew up with. They were his neighbors. It got so bad that Jeremiah didn’t want to speak any more. He tried to keep silent but he couldn’t. He couldn’t keep silent when he had a message to share with the people that could result in their salvation.

Do you pass up opportunities to witness to others because you don’t want to be criticized, ridiculed, ignored or shunned? Are you tired of your friends making fun of you because you talk to them about God? Do you feel like you are an outsider because the people you once hung out with want nothing more to do with you? You cramp their style. You are a drag because you don’t want to go to nightclubs or the bars or hang out at the mall anymore. Your boyfriend dumped you because he’s not into that Bible stuff.

What do you do? You do what Jeremiah did. Realize and accept your new life as a Christian and that you have work to do. Accept that life at times will be difficult because you serve God. Jesus had to deal with family, neighbors and friends who rejected and questioned His ministry. He faced persecution and opposition from the religious leaders. In spite of all of these things, He finished the work God had sent Him to do. Follow His example. Continue to share your faith. Those who want to hear it will listen. Sooner or later, the seed will fall on good soil.

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Chantrea’s Crusade

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“Thanks for doing this interview, Chantrea. It can’t be easy for you.” They were sitting by the lake just steps from the organization where the Cambodian woman worked as a social worker.

Chantrea smiled slightly. She had sad eyes and although she was in her late thirties, she looked much older which wasn’t surprising, considering the kind of life she once had. “I don’t want to do what’s easy for me,” she said. “I will do whatever is necessary to help the children.”

“What’s your story?”

“I was eleven when my father put me in an orphanage because they promised him that I would receive a good education and opportunities for the future. Instead, I was beaten, raped, starved and forced to work on the orphanage director’s rice paddies and farms without pay.

“And now you’ve dedicated your life to fighting such institutions.”

“Yes. I’m fighting to prevent the separation of vulnerable children from their families and orphanages that attract funding, volunteers and donations from well-meaning tourists.”

“What’s your biggest goal?”

“Shutting down these orphanages.”

 

175 Words

This story is inspired by true stories of children who are taken from their families and homes and placed in orphanages “where they may be exploited, even abused, malnourished, forced to work, and sometimes trafficked to other orphanages and forms of exploitation in order to repeat the cycle and elicit further funding.”

Written as part of Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers hosted by Priceless Joy. For more information visit Here.  If you would like to read other stories based on this week’s prompt, visit Here.

Sources:  Freedom United; Cambodian Children’s Trust