“And then,” they were a strange few words to be mulling over on the eve of her death. She should be thinking big, inspirational words like courage and loyalty and sacrifice. Instead she was stuck on “and then.”
Maybe it was because she didn’t have very many “and thens” left.
The story of her life would run out of add ons by the end of the day. “Aminah was brought before the religious police, and then she was found guilty, and then…” her thoughts trailed off, and then it would be the end. The final period would be placed on the final chapter of her earthly saga.
The book would shut on dusty earth and an unmarked grave, at least in this world.
Would anyone remember her here? Would her death count for anything?
She couldn’t help but wonder about the “and thens” that would be written in the life to come. The thought made her heart pound in excitement despite the gruesome nature of her current circumstances.
Heavy footfalls sounded down the hallway outside the bedroom that had become her prison. She ran her hands over the pink bedspread that had symbolized so much happiness throughout her childhood and pressed her cheek into its familiar warmth. It would offer no protection now.
She had done the unthinkable, and chosen the God of the Christians over the god of her fathers. She did not regret it.
This was the best story she could have chosen.
“Jesus, I love You. Give me strength!”
And then the door opened. An icy wave of fear threatened to pull her under and she swallowed hard. She squared her jaw and straightened her spine. She would not give into panic. She wanted her story to read well, all her remaining, “and thens” to count.
And then rough hands grabbed her around the collar and hoisted her to her feet. And then she nearly tumbled down the stairs as they prodded her roughly onward. And then she fell in a heap at her father’s feet, staring up into the once warm gaze that had ordered this judgment upon her. He said it was because he loved her. And then she faced a death tribunal in her living room, the “mutaween” in their white crowding in around her black “abaya” prison. And then they asked if she had committed this crime, if she loved this Jesus of Nazareth. And then she said, “Yes.” And then they asked if she would change her mind. And then she said, “No.” And then they demanded that she change her mind. And then she still said, “No.” And then her father and her sobbing mother watched as they dragged her out the front door and onto the front lawn. And then in broad daylight on a Friday afternoon, 5 men began beating a girl to death with heavy sticks. And then the people watching did nothing to stop it. And then she cried out in a voice shaking but sure, “Father forgive them.”
And then Aminah’s heart stopped beating.
Her father shook the religious man’s bloody hand and wiped his sticky palms on his pants. The hot sun shone on the girl’s lifeless body as they dragged her away, leaving a bright red stain on the just mowed green grass.
And then Aminah woke up…
For both the first and the last time.
The first because she had never truly been alive until this moment in His Presence.
The last because she would never close her eyes in death again.
Dedication: This story is written to give a voice, a face and a name, to the countless thousands of women, men, and children who lose their lives for Christ in an Islamic context that considers converting to Christianity a crime worthy of death. Unlike other humanitarian issues, their names are not often broadcasted. Their stories not plastered over the internet for the world to take notice and mourn. Their deaths are considered normative in a society that embraces capital punishment for religious crimes. “Aminah” was not based on a singular person or story, but on the daily struggle of Christians living in areas controlled by Shariah law. The “mutaween” are a branch of Islamic religious police specific to Saudi Arabia, and are also known as “The Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice.” Parents will often inform on their own children for infractions of Islamic law and endorse public beatings and even execution for the “crimes” of their loved ones.
How Can I Help?
When you communicate with Christians living in these areas, their greatest request is always for prayer! We cannot underestimate the power of prayer, even for those located on the other side of the planet.
Hebrews 13:3 tells us to..
“Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.”
Amazingly, they do not always ask that you pray for an escape, but for the strength to finish strong, like Aminah in this story.
This week, as you pray for the turmoil in our own country, please remember to pray for our brothers and sisters who have no escape from their situation and are forced to live in terror everyday.
Let’s make all of our “and thens” count for those who will never have the chance to make their voices heard.
Organizations That Support The Persecuted Church:
Smyrna Ministries International– A prayer based ministry that focuses on lifting up believers in the Islamic context.
Voice of The Martyrs- This international organization’s five fold mission exists to encourage and equip believers facing persecution worldwide and to inform the Body of Christ of their stories.