FYONA,* A VERY EDUCATED WOMAN, wanted to learn English. Living in the Middle East made that difficult. One day she came across the 3ABN television channel. She didn’t know it was a Christian broadcast and had never heard of a Bible. Listening to the programs and reading passages on the screen accelerated her language learning. After more than a year, she was shocked to find out she had been reading from the Bible.
When she told her husband, he allowed her to keep watching the programs. He was sure Fyona’s Muslim faith was grounded. However, the effect was the opposite. The more she watched, the more she became convicted that the Bible was the Word of God. She learned about Jesus, who wanted to be her Savior.
From the internet, she began downloading Bible chapters. She would read them aloud to her eight-year- old son and one-year-old daughter. When her husband found out, he became furious. He beat her and threatened to kill her if she did not give up the Christian religion.
She found an Adventist church, and members there gave her a small Bible. She hid it in the soap box in the bathroom, but her husband found it. He tore it up, and the beatings continued. When he left the house, he locked her inside.
One day Fyona was sick and begged her husband to take her to the hospital. He did and said he would pick her up later. While there she took a risk, found a public telephone, and called 3ABN, asking for prayer. They got everyone they could to pray for her.
Her husband could not bring himself to kill her, so he divorced her. The judge agreed to give Fyona custody of the children if she denounced her Christian religion. But she couldn’t, so her husband was given the children. A faithful church member offered her lodging, and she stayed there for four months. Then she moved to her parents’ house, but they would not allow her to keep any Christian books or even eat at their table.
Fyona’s mother kept in contact with her son-in-law. She found out that the children were having trouble with the separation, especially her granddaughter, who was now seven. So she managed to bring Nijah to her house to visit Fyona.
When Nijah returned to her father’s house, he harassed her and refused to let her phone her mother. She grew frightened and depressed. Her grades in school dropped, and she couldn’t concentrate.
In the meantime, Fyona continued praying to get her children back. She especially prayed for Nijah. Five years later, her son went to study at the university, leaving Nijah with her father and new stepmother. Fyona had moved to a remote village working as a Global Mission Pioneer.
One summer Nijah begged to spend the remainder of the holiday with her mother. She promised she would return home for school, but when the time came, she refused.
Fyona was afraid she would be accused of kidnapping and go to jail. According to the law, children had to be 20 years old to choose which parent to live with. So Fyona
went to a judge to appeal for custody. Her husband and mother came too.
Nijah became hysterical, so the judge conferred with a psychiatrist. They agreed that Nijah could stay with her mother temporarily, and a social worker would monitor her
In her new environment and new school, Nijah did well and passed seventh grade.
That summer the Middle East and North Africa Union Mission organized a retreat for Global Mission Pioneers. Fyona hoped it would be an opportunity for her daughter to mingle with people of faith. The morning Bible studies included reading Bible verses, then copying and paraphrasing them. Fyona was not comfortable writing, so the second day she asked Nijah if she would write for her. This would also give Nijah a chance to practice her handwriting. To Fyona’s surprise,Nijah seemed to like the exercise. With
meticulous writing, she also paraphrased the texts.
That was the beginning of Nijah’s healing. When they returned home, Nijah continued to copy and paraphrase Bible verses. Fyona bought a beautiful notebook to encourage her to keep it up, and she eagerly did.
A Revival and Reformation Bible reading plan was beginning, and Fyona and Nijah decided to get involved. They began with the book of Joel. During the winter they read a chapter every night, and Nijah copied each chapter and paraphrased it in Arabic. When the Old Testament was finished, they started on the New Testament.
When Fyona moved to a different city for a new job, she enrolled Nijah in a school with high academic achievement, and she had a very successful eighth grade school year.
Finally, the judge granted Fyona full custody!
When I met Fyona, she and Nijah were studying Mark. Nijah had a glow on her face and was full of joy. Every Sabbath she gathers the neighborhood children to tell them Bible stories. And since then, she has been baptized and is able to freely attend church. She can read the Bible in English and hopes that one day she will be qualified to teach children to succeed in their academic learning.
Wherever you are in the journey for emotional healing, whatever your sources of help, I have learned that one of the best additions is to read, meditate on, paraphrase, and personalize Scripture. Often, quiet times will calm the heart. God is always surrounding you with His love and His promises.
* All names have been changed.