I went to meet Mrs. M. today. Her husband was a wonderful pastor who loved and reached out to Muslims. He was assassinated recently. I met her in a secluded place overseas because her husband’s murder had been widely published and the security service did not allow her to meet with foreigners. Because my host was also a target of the security services, the whole scene was nerve-wracking.
Pastor M. was an outspoken pastor and incredibly bold for Christ. He lived in a Muslim country where people heard the call to prayer five times a day. Not to be outdone, Pastor M. received permission to install a loudspeaker on top of his church in which he broadcasted short prayers and scripture readings to the neighborhood.
He was known for greatly loving Muslims and many came to Christ as a result of his outreach efforts. Because of this, he was warned to stop converting Muslims. Strangers came to his home to inform him that he should not try to bring people to Christ. The threats grew stronger until he was finally told he would be killed if he didn’t stop. After each visit, his wife would ask him, “Who were those people and what did they want?” Pastor M. would answer, “It’s nothing dear, just business.” He did not want her to worry.
Early one morning Pastor M. was martyred for Christ at a train station. Neither his watch nor his money was taken. It was not a robbery; it was an assassination. Mrs. M. was experiencing jetlag when I interviewed her regarding the death of her husband. She stoically related what happened, not showing any emotion. I was unmoved as I listened to her story and began to feel ashamed that I could not feel her pain.
I asked her if International Christian Concern (ICC—the organization I am president of) could help with her living expenses since she had six children, four of whom still lived in the home. Three of the children were girls, and in a Muslim culture a girl without a father is very vulnerable. I told her that I knew the money wouldn’t solve her problems but that Christians in America wanted to help. I felt uncomfortable offering her the money because it was such a small response to such an overwhelming situation. Her husband was murdered for Christ and here I was offering her money.
Before I left, I took pictures, shot video footage, gave financial support and prayed for her. As I prayed, I was moved to place my hand on her shoulder. I wondered if I would be crossing a cultural boundary in this fundamentalist Muslim country, but I felt the need to help lift this woman’s broken spirit. I began to pray aloud, “Father, sometimes you ask us to carry loads that are too heavy for us. My sister here has one of those loads. Could you touch her and let her know the peace that passes all understanding? Lord, she has a desert to walk through and I pray she would feel your hand holding hers as she walks through. ”
As I prayed, her shoulder began to gently shake. This was followed by outright heaving and lastly by muffled sobs. I stopped praying and sat with my hand on her shoulder. The muffled sobs turned to uncontrolled weeping. She cried in her own language, “How could they murder him! All he did was love people. He loved the Muslim people.” She continued on: “How am I going to live without him? What if they kill my son too?”
My host and a helper immediately started patting her on the back and telling her it would be okay. I think they were embarrassed that I saw this display of emotion. I silently prayed for her. The word says, “Weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15) and I did just that.
Finally I got ready to leave. I stood up and reached down for her hand and she took my hand in both of hers. She looked at me with tear-filled eyes and said thank you in such a way that nearly broke my heart. I left knowing that she had a long road of grief to walk–and that she would most likely do this alone. I also know that one heart was restored that day . . . mine.
This article was edited from a recent story in CONCERN, the free newsletter of International Christian Concern, http://www.persecution.org/.