Ugandan Christian Teenager Beaten and Disowned

Imagine being badly beaten and disowned because you give your life to Jesus Christ. Jesus predicted that this kind of thing would happen.  “Do you suppose that I came to give peace on earth? I tell you, not at all, but rather division. “For from now on five in one house will be divided: three against two, and two against three.  Father will be divided against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.” In the case of Saidha, it was father against daughter.  When her adoptive father learned that she and her sister had converted to Christianity, she was beaten.

In some countries in the world, there is no such thing as religious liberty.  People are persecuted or killed for their faith.  Please pray for the brave souls who, like the apostle Paul, “also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:8).  Pray for teenagers like Saidha who are disowned by their families that they continue in their faith, trusting in the loving care of the Lord.

UGANDA: Christian Teenager Beaten and Disowned

Source: VOM USA

Saidha

A teenager was recently beaten by her adoptive father when he discovered that Saidha and her sister had converted to Christianity. The girls, who live in the primarily Muslim village of Bwite, accepted Christ after hearing the Gospel message at an evangelistic meeting. When their adoptive father, Ali Sooka Abudalah, learned about their new faith, he beat Saidha with a club. Ali, the son of the local imam, had adopted Saidha and her sister after their biological father died several years ago.

Saidha’s face was left badly swollen after the heartless beating, requiring that she spend about a week in a medical clinic while being treated for her injuries. Ali then determined that since Saidha had decided to leave Islam, she could no longer be raised as one of his children. He took her to a church in the village and notified local authorities that he intended to leave her in the custody of a church leader. In an official document, Ali turned over custody of the girl to the pastor, adding that he does not “want to know or hear any matter concerning her because she confessed Christ as her personal Saviour.” The letter was signed on December 13th, 2014, by Ali, 12 witnesses and several other local officials.

A VOM worker visited Saidha a few weeks ago, after travelling several hours to reach her. Thankfully, the teen is presently being well cared for in the home of evangelist Muwanguzi Hassan, another convert from Islam to Christianity. Muwanguzi and his wife care for 17 other children who were also disowned by their families for the same reason. The couple is one of just four Christian families residing within their Muslim village.

Thank the Lord for the steadfast faith of Saidha! May the love and support of this new Christian family sustain and encourage the young believer as she rebuilds her life. In particular, may God grant complete healing from the physical assault she encountered, as well as recovery from the emotional wounds of being abandoned by her adoptive father. Pray that Saidha’s sister will also continue to grow in the Christian faith, and that God will keep both of these precious girls safe in His loving care. Additionally, may He move powerfully in this Muslim village so that many more will learn the truth of the Gospel.

To post a prayer of support for this courageous young sister in Christ, visit our Persecuted Church Prayer Wall (The Voice of the Martyrs Canada)

For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith (1 John 5:4).

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Beaten for Her Faith

I got this email from Voice of the Martyrs Canada.  Imagine beating a child for what she believes.  As a Christian mother, I am proud of my faith and encourage it in my child.  I pray that when he grows up and has his own family, he and his wife will raise godly children who will stand up for Jesus no matter what.  I admire this little girl’s courage.  Keep her in your prayers.  Pray for her father as he continues in his faith.  Pray for her mother and uncle and all of those who oppose the Christian faith.

Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven – Matthew 10:32

BAHRAIN: Child Beaten for Her Faith
Source: VOM USA

I Believe in Jesus
A 10-year-old girl was badly beaten recently by her mother and uncle after she told them she believed in Jesus.
The girl’s father has been a believer for several years and is open with his family about his faith. During a recent conversation with her mother and uncle, the girl was asked what she believed. This was her reply: “I believe what my dad believes. I believe in Jesus.”

The child’s mother and uncle immediately began to beat her, leaving her badly bruised. Despite the beating, the girl and her father remain committed to following Christ.

Ask God to grant physical and emotional healing to this young girl as she recovers from the ordeal. May her faith grow stronger each day, despite the pressure she will surely continue to face. Thank the Lord that her father is also a believer, and pray that he will be a source of comfort and strength for his daughter as she follows Jesus. Finally, pray for the girl’s mother and uncle, that they may also come to accept Christ as their Saviour and Lord.

For more stories about children facing opposition for their faith, as well as activities and videos geared especially for kids, please visit VOM’s website for children at www.KidsofCourage.com.

Hymen Reconstruction

This week on the Ricki Lake Show, I learned about women having their hymen reconstructed.  I never knew such a thing existed.  Check out this clip from the show.

Melody Meozzi, an Iranian-American Muslim writer and attorney, is a staunch opponent of hymen reconstruction.  She believes that it further contributes to violence against women.  She goes head to head with with Dr. Robert Moore, an internationally recognized Laparoscopic and Vaginal Reconstructive Surgeon who has operated on patients from all over the US and the world.

Hymen Repair Surgery, termed as Hymenoplasty is a simple surgery to restore virginity of women owing to the religious, cultural and ethnic reasons. The surgery repairs the hymen after it has been ruptured during sexual assault, agreed intercourse, sports, falls or insertion of tampons.

The Hymen Restoration Surgery takes up to 30 minutes to an hour. The surgery is performed under local anaesthesia with sedation or general anesthesia. It involves stitching of the edges of the remaining hymen together. Soon after this the hymen heals and the ruptured hymen grows back to a hymen similar to one in virgin girls. With hymen restoration, vaginal walls also tighten up.

Such procedures are not generally regarded as part of mainstream gynecology, but are available from some plastic surgery centers, particularly in the USA, Japan and Western Europe, generally as day surgery. The normal aim is to cause bleeding during post-nuptialintercourse, which in some cultures is considered proof of virginity.

I came across an article on the BBC News website about women in Asia and the Arab world who risk being ostracized or death because they had sex outside of marriage.  Many of them are undergoing surgery to reconnect their hymen so that there is blood on the sheets on their wedding night.  Others have committed suicide because of the unbearable pressure and the fear of being found out.  Read their stories.

Hymen reconstruction surgery is performed in China as sexually active Chinese women are pressured by their new husbands.  This procedure is also done in Canada.  There were lots of websites promoting hymen repair, reconstruction.  There was even a website called Hymen shop where they sell artificial hymen.

There is so much information out there about hymen reconstruction.  If you or someone you know is considering this procedure, educate yourself first.  Seek counselling.  Don’t let anyone pressure you into having the surgery.  This decision is yours alone.

Sources:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hymenorrhaphy; http://www.weirdasianews.com/2010/09/14/hymen-reconstruction-surgery-price-virginity/; http://www.indicure.com/articles/hymenoplasty-procedure-outcomes-cost-hymen-restoration-surgery-in-top-hospitals-clinics-in-india.html; http://www.rnw.nl/english/article/hymen-reconstruction-doesnt-work;

Zimele

‘Zimele’ means ‘standing on one’s feet’ in the Zulu language.  I love their logo.  It is of a woman not only standing on her feet but it looks like she is dancing.  This to me expresses the joy of knowing that you are empowering yourself–learning new skills, educating yourself–taking action instead of depending on others to help you.  Joy comes with knowing that you are standing on you own two feet.  Helping people to stand on their own feet is what separates Zimele from the rest of the organizations out there.  Zimele equips and empowers.

Zimele is an organization created from the vision of Rosetta Stander who wanted to develop community self-reliance in the KwaZulu-Natal region of South Africa.  Rosetta was convinced that while non-profit organizations had good intentions, they created a short-sighted welfare environment in which people depend upon the charities for their everyday needs.  Her prior experience of training people in life, vocational, and business skills gave her the conviction that the key to developing South Africa lay in the education of its people.  Education and self-reliance is the best way for a community to survive and thrive.  Rosetta pursued her vision and in 2006, Zimele was formed.  A year later, Zimele USA was founded.  Today, there are Zimele organizations in Canada, the UK and Germany.  The organizations’ mission is to free the rural communities of Kwazulu Natal, South Africa and Zimbabwe from the poverty cycle by transforming each into a ‘Zimele’ community able to ‘stand on its own feet’.

Zimele Canada is throwing their first annual gala here in Toronto.  Here’s your opportunity to learn first hand about the work this organization is doing and to meet its founder, Rosetta Stander.

BUY YOUR TICKETS NOW! 1ST Annual ZIMELE Gala

March 23, 2012

Come join us in the inauguration of the highly anticipated 1ST Annual ZIMELE Gala! This event is an invitation for Toronto to experience a glimpse of the ZIMELE com­munity and see how the region of Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa is being empowered to overcome generations of poverty and illness with long term sustainability.

Guests will enjoy a fabulous evening of great food, live entertainment and opportuni­ties to learn more about ZIMELE through various testimonies, including the organization’s founder Rosetta Stander.

Join us in helping the people of South Africa stand on their own two feet!

WHERE: The Columbus Centre, Carrier Gallery
WHEN: Friday, March 23, 2012.
TIME: 6pm cocktail hour , 7pm–11pm
ATTIRE: Semi-formal/cocktail
TICKETS: $85 (no tickets at the door/pre-sale only)

Tickets are on sale now. Click here to purchase your ticket!

For those of you who live in New York or close to New Jersey, Zimele USA is having their annual gala on Sunday, April 1st.  Find out more here.

Breakdown in the Closet

MAMA: Motherhood Around the Globe, explores the realities and ideas of a new global generation of mothers through art, stories, and powerful new voices. The exhibition aims to turn inspiration into action helping fuel a worldwide movement of advocates for mothers’ human rights and advances in maternal health. Just recently I got an email from them to vote for our favorite community piece. The voting ended February 29.  The finalists were very impressive.  They were as follows:

Each of these stories represents an important, and unique, aspect of motherhood around the globe.  I voted for Birthmarkings because it explores self-image and how our bodies change after we have children.  Some women feel self-conscious and unattractive.  I never felt unattractive because of my husband.  He always made me feel beautiful.  My self-image after birth has not changed.  My changed body is a reminder for me of how blessed I am to be a mother.

The winner of this competition is Humaira Abid’s Breakdown in the Closet.  What a concept.  Six wooden hangers in a closet–two of them bare.  These two hangers depict the pain and disappointment that comes along with miscarriage—a frequently unspoken part of many women’s experiences of pregnancy and motherhood.  The clothes look so real.  It’s hard to believe that they are made of wood.  We see the mother’s dress and the father’s pants and shirts.  This is a family wardrobe.  A husband and wife are expecting a child but tragedy strikes.  On the floor between the mother’s and the father’s clothes, we notice something that stands out in sharp contrast–the red baby shirt.  This is meant to represent the mother’s miscarriage and both parents’ loss.

Humaira explains that this work is a part of a series called “RED” named such because the color red represents love, passion, blood, anger, and loss–all strong emotions. Yes in the subcontinent, red is the traditional color of bridal dresses, and often is associated with love, sexuality, and fertility. Yet in some parts of Africa, red is a color of mourning and death-often associated with the color of blood. She herself suffered from miscarriages so she knows how tough this can take both a physical and emotional toll on women.

As the winner, Humaira Abid receives a US$1,000 prize, with $500 going to the artist and $500 going to a nonprofit charity of her choice!  Notes to Women congratulate this amazing artist who uses her work to a very painful experience for women.  Unfortunately miscarriage is very common, occurring in about one in five pregnancies.  Some women feel a strong sense of guilt, even though it is not their fault. These are natural reactions.

Breakdown in the Closet brilliantly and skillfully addresses a topic that is very difficult for women.  Humaira’s work recognized internationally for its originality and excellence has earned her a gold medal. Her work has been exhibited in Malaysia, India, Mauritius, Nepal, Kenya, Dubai, Bolivia, Germany, Russia, UK and USA. Humaira graduated from National College of Arts Lahore, Pakistan with Honors in the year 2000. She majored in Sculpture, with Miniature as her double minor.  We salute this internationally renown artist who uses her art to take action against the issue of gender inequality.  Brava Humaira.

We are pleased to announce that last month Humaira had her first child.  Congratulations, Humaira.  We wish mother and baby all the best.

If you are interested in seeing more of Humaira’s art, check out her website at:  http://www.humaira.com.pk/

I am from a country and society where showing your emotions and expressing your opinion is not welcomed–especially if you are a woman. Many experiences and roles of women are not properly appreciated. They are simply considered to be their duty or part of life.

I am trying to raise these issues through my work, which counters the stereotypical image of women in a male dominated society. In an environment where women have a considerable way to go to become full partners of men, I want my work to reflect the aspiration for gender equality.

Source:  http://www.netdoctor.co.uk/diseases/facts/miscarriage.htmhttp://mama.imow.org/yourvoices/breakdown-closet

Homeless Beauty Contestant

On Friday night I read the touching and inspiring story of Miss Colorado USA Blair Griffith.  Blair and her mother were evicted from their home last November, just a month after she received her crown.   This was the latest of the misfortunes the 23 year old has had to deal with. 

In an interview with TODAY’s Meredith Vieira, Blair recalls when her life began to take a downward spiral.   Eight years ago, when Griffith was in eighth grade, her father, who had encouraged the young tomboy to enter the pageant world, took ill. When he died of prostate cancer, “that’s when things really started to take a downward turn,” Griffith told Vieira.

Soon, the stress of being a single mom to two children took its toll on Griffith’s mother, Bonita; she suffered a heart attack that required surgery, and was unable to work. Bonita Griffith lost her insurance when her insurer declared that the heart attack was the result of a pre-existing condition. That meant that she had to pay her medical expenses, including $800 a month for medications, out of her own pocket. 

Blair said that she didn’t know that she and her mother would be evicted until the sheriff showed up at her door.   She watched, stunned as the sheriff’s officers, armed with an eviction notice, tossed all of their worldly possessions into trash bags.   “It was just very hard seeing everything, all of my belongings, my dresses that I wanted to compete in at Miss USA, thrown into a trash bag and nowhere to be found,” (http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/41778312/ns/today_fahion_and_beauty/).

She and her mother are living with a family friend.  Of her situation, Blair said, “You do sit there and go, ‘Oh gosh, not again.’ But at the same time I think it’s almost like a test .. to see if you can handle it, and what will you make out of your situation.” 

Homeless, Blair now faces the prospect of losing her job at Saks Fifth Avenue when the branch she works at goes out of business next month.  Through it all, she has maintained a somewhat positive or at least philosophical outlook.  She told Denver’s 9 News, “I have no place to complain about anything that’s going on in my life. There’s so many people that are going through the same exact situation. I hope to inspire people” (http://ca.news.yahoo.com/blogs/dailybrew/miss-colorado-trying-times-20110224-122948-067.html). 

Blair is an inspiration to her mother.  “I’m just amazed that whatever we have gone up against, she stands there, she handles it and she moves on.”

And she is an inspiration to others.  She openly speaks about her circumstances at schools and events.   The message here is that no one is immune from homelessness.  Circumstances can change and if it weren’t for the family friend who is providing a roof over their heads, it is possible that Blair and her mother would be living on the streets.  This is the reason why we cannot look at the homeless and make assumptions or look down on them.  I am sure that it never occurred to Blair that she would lose her home.

When I watched the news feature, “No Place to Hang Her Crown” the first thing that struck me about Blair was how she was laughing as she stood in a classroom.  You would never suspect that she was going through a tough time.  And she has a very positive outlook.   She counts herself and her mother as being luckier than many.   “We’re doing good by the grace of great friends who let us come in and stay in their homes,” she said. “We have a place to stay right now. Of course, we’re just trying to work to get our lives back together again to be able to afford our own home.”

Right now Blair is busy preparing for the Miss USA pageant which will be held on June 19 in Las Vegas where she hopes to share her message of hope.

“My message when I get there is just that I want to be an inspiration to everyone and show you that no matter the hardships you’re facing, if you stay focused on your dreams and your goals, you can achieve them.”

What poetic justice it would be if this inspiring and aspiring beauty queen were to win the coveted Miss USA crown.

Three Great Women

I always wondered about the women in Thurgood Marshall’s life–his mother and his wife.  I decided to browse the Internet to see what information I could find.

Thurgood’s mother, Norma Arica was a public school teacher for over 25 years.  When her son attended Howard University Law School she pawned her wedding and engagement rings to pay his tuition (Michael Lariens).  I found this interesting because I read on another site that Norma wanted her son to become a dentist.  However, when she saw how well her son did in court, she was glad he became a lawyer

During Thurgood’s childhood, Norma and her husband  taught him how to argue, by making him prove every statement he made, and by challenging every point he made, unintentionally instilling in him the characteristics he needed in order to be an effective lawyer (Mccsc.edu).

Norma along with her husband and Thurgood’s grandparents encouraged him to adjust to segregation, rather than fight it. “I was taught to go along with it, not fight it unless you could win!”  Thurgood later became  the first African American to serve on the highest court in the country, and held that post until his retirement 24 years later in 1991.  He acknowledged that, “None of us got where we are solely by pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps. We got here because somebody – a parent, a teacher, an Ivy League crony or a few nuns – bent down and helped us pick up our boots” (http://www.thurgoodmarshallms.mnps.org/Page39045.aspx).

Thurgood was married twice.  I didn’t know that.  His first wife, Vivian Burey was a student from the University of Pennsylvania.  She helped Thurgood to make the decision to attend law school.  Viven died of lung cancer on February 11, 1955.  Thurgood remarried.  His second wife Cecilia Suyat was a Hawaiian.  

As for her early life, Cecilia Suyat Marshall said that both her parents were born in the Philippines while she was born and raised in Hawaii.  She described her life in Hawaii as one without prejudice where all types of people integrated well.   Her father had his own printing company.  Her mother died when she was young and having many siblings, she felt she should go and take care of herself.

Her father encouraged her to go to New York where she found work at the the NAACP.  Her first job there was to picket the movie theater where “Birth of a Nation” was being shown.  She said it did stop showing shortly after their protest.   She worked her way up from stenography pool to the private secretary of the head of the NAACP organization, Dr. Gloster B. Current from 1948-55.  This was an important position due to the fact that he was head of 1,500 NAACP groups throughout the USA.

In December 1955 she met Thurgood Marshall who was then the chief counsel for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Cecilia was described as a a warm, nurturing and proud mother to Thurgood’s two sons.  She was proud of her husband’s accomplishments, especially his victory in the Brown vs Board of Education case because it also succeeded in ending segregation in restaurants and hotels.

Cecilia believed in the importance of preserving “our history not for our generation but for the younger generation… to keep reminding them and telling them the history of where we came from…it was not very easy”((http://fairfaxasianamericans.community.officelive.com/EssayCivilRightsMarshallCeciliaSuyat.aspx).   ((http://fairfaxasianamericans.community.officelive.com/EssayCivilRightsMarshallCeciliaSuyat.aspx).

You know the old adage:  Behind every great man there stands a great woman.  In Thurgood Marshall’s case there were three.  The love, support and devotion of these remarkable women helped him along his journey to the Supreme Court.

Thurgood Marshall Before His Swearing in at the Supreme Court

Cecilia with Thurgood