（Representative image used)
One of the challenges secret believers in Central Asia face is the issue of honour and shame. Upholding the honour of the family is one of the most important duties. Shame can be brought on the family through certain events and behaviour that is frowned upon by neighbours and the community. The behaviour of women is particularly scrutinised and is often a reason for gossip and loss of reputation of a family. The men in the family are held accountable for the conduct of the women.
In the following story, Samida is bringing shame on her family in at least two ways: she is still single even though she is over 20 years old and; secondly, she has strayed from the traditions of her family and culture and adheres to a foreign religion.
Samida has a 'foreign belief'
Samida's father, who is almost blind, became a Christian when she was a teenager, declaring, "If Jesus is as mighty as they say He is, He will heal my eyes." But nothing happened; no healing took place. Samida's parents were deeply disappointed with Christianity and the Lord Jesus, so they decided to return to Islam.
Samida, however, stayed faithful to Jesus and held on to her new-found hope despite this being the beginning of a long road of suffering for her.
Samida has no suitors; it’s a shame to be single at 26
In the eyes of her family Samida has brought shame on her family by leaving Islam and blame her Christianity for her still being single. Samida is at an age where women in her culture are expected to be married and have children, preferably some sons. Having not done so by the age of 21 is considered very unusual within her culture never mind age 26. Marriage is viewed as a way for women to achieve a respectable status, a level of dignity and value.
Samida's parents take their frustration out on her. “It is your fault; you dishonor us by holding on to Christianity. No wonder there are no suitors for you! Don’t you realize you bring shame on this household?!” Every day Samida has to listen to these words which are accompanied by many beatings.
Samida asks, "Would you please pray with me that my parents will have a change of heart, so that they will return to the Lord Jesus? That their faith will not be dependent on a miracle of healing, but on the steadfastness of His Word? That we as a family will be able to worship the Lord Jesus and that the relationship with my parents will be restored?”
- Pray that Samida's family will one day join her in worshipping Jesus as Lord.
- Pray for divine strength for Samida as she continues to stand firm in her faith and be a witness to her family.
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