She stood at the entrance of the family restaurant situated in the heart of the Chinese market in our otherwise Muslim city. Eye contact made. Recognition. The micro nod – but anything else would jeopardize her future.
We met Sarah* just three weeks ago, but our lives have become embroiled. As her story has unfolded, we are thinking that Cinderella had a functional family in comparison to our young friend. Already an adult, her story from birth has included adoption into a family where the males, through generations, were violent towards the women. Though dearly loved and protected by her adopted mum, her siblings, cousins and other family members (a blend of Buddhist and atheist) always taunted her. When her adoptive mum died several years ago, life for Sarah has been like 'living with monsters’; to the point where she is terrified she will also become a 'monster' herself. She, like Cinderella, needs an 'out'.
A few of us have now befriended her and shown some support and love, and the social worker/psychologist who has started to counsel her has tested Sarah for character traits and vocational aptitude. The results were ‘artistic, relational and conservative’ and it was believable that Sarah was always top of her grades at school. However, instead of receiving praise for her high grades as a child, this only caused more abuse for her. And between the ages of five and seven she was sexually abused, which resulted in her being nicknamed ‘slut’.
Sarah is literally in fear of her life – she has just hours in the week where she is allowed away from the family home and business. If she is out for more than one or two hours she gets agitated because of what she knows will happen when she returns, even though she is 25 years old. In her childhood there were only two people who loved and protected her; one of those, a father figure, was kidnapped and brutally murdered. The other, her adoptive mum, died five years ago.
Just days ago our young friend very intentionally received into her heart the One who has the power to heal and restore. This happened as her Psychologist explained stories of people such as Joseph who were mistreated and beaten by family, imprisoned and yet found our God as their strength; in fact they eventually became great leaders.
Please pray with us for this new believer. Our friends, including Sarah’s psychologist, are trying to find a creative way forward where she can find a job and save for college in an area that is safer than anywhere in our part of the country. Sarah’s family is very influential and she is terrified of what might be done to her if she flees – she may even be murdered.
Stand with us in this spiritual battle - our Father has His hand most definitely on this new child of His, but the war in the heavens is very real. ♦
Written by an Interserve Partner in South East Asia, November 2013.
* Not her real name or photograph
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