Monday, July 10, 2006

Difficult Conversions

In church yesterday morning, a young Pakistani woman, named Rosi*, who was visiting from England, spoke to our congregation. She had grown up in Pakistan with her father, mother, and several brothers and sisters. Her immediate family lived in a home beside two of her father's brothers and their families. A close family, her early childhood had been a happy one.

Then Rosi's father began reading a Bible given to him by one of his students. He converted to Christianity. As he attended church week after week, his brothers became angry with him. Eventually, they threatened to kill him if he did not stop being a Christian, for they believed that was their duty.

He fled with his immediate family to another town where they lived happily enough for a couple of years until her uncles found them again. They loaded up everything her family owned into a truck and told them to come with them. Her father plead with them to allow him and his children to finish out the examination period, and then they could return with them after that in a few days. His brothers relented but took his two oldest children with them along with everything they owned.

Assuming his children would be safe, he instead packed up the rest of his family and fled to yet another town. There they lived with a pastor for some time. The pastor's habit was early morning Bible reading and prayer with his family, and Rosi and her family joined them. Not particularly thrilled with her 6 A.M. wake up call every morning, Rosi disliked the pastor greatly.

Rosi also began studying the Koran and other Islamic writings at that time. While she loved her father very much, the things she was reading convinced her that if she truly loved God she would need to kill her father because he had converted from Islam, which was clearly an action deserving of death.

As she contemplated what she should do, Rosi obtained a job in another town. There she worked and discussed her predicament with her Christian father with some of the townspeople there. Her employer, not wanting to see Rosi's family hurt, pulled her aside one day and explained to her that she was causing great danger for her father as the townspeople were considering taking revenge upon him. Rosi protested that she had spoken nothing but the truth and hadn't done anything wrong. Nevertheless, she was sent back.

Next, Rosi was given a job in a Christian seminary in yet another town. Her new job typing up seminary courses gave her constant exposure to Christian Scripture. She read her Islamic literature on her own time, but the differences between the two faiths stood out. Eventually, she herself gave her life over to Jesus Christ and became a Christian.

Soon her uncles discovered where Rosi was working. They phoned her there, looking for information about her father and mother, brothers and sisters. As her uncles were still determined to take her father by force and to kill him if he would not give up Christianity, Rosi was snuck back home.

Her father decided it was no longer safe there for Rosi either since she was now a Christian too, and he sought to place her out of harm's way by sending her to England. She managed to obtain a visa to attend a class there. She was heartbroken to leave her family since the move would probably be permanent.

She has been living in England for many years. Recently she received a call from her father and mother who has also converted though she still performs her daily prayers. There are men who stand outside her parents' home daily. They have called her father and know everything about him and where his children now reside. She requests prayer for her family because of the constant death threats that are being made against them.

Rosi's story touched me. The danger posed to those who convert from Islam is real. Apparently it is an easy religion to convert to, but impossible to convert from without great risk. Her uncles threatened to kill her father and took all that they owned. Others, upon hearing of her father's conversion, contemplated harming him. Now her parents' home is being watched day and night, and they are receiving death threats. Rosi herself, though previously considering doing her duty to God by killing her father, had to flee her home after her own conversion to Christ. The difficulties she and her family have faced are hard to imagine as we live in a country in which we are free to believe as we wish and are not faced with possible death for changing religions or holding to no religion at all. I wonder if I would have the fortitude that her family had shown in similar circumstances. It's something to think about.

*not her real name as I do not wish to inadvertently cause her or her people harm.


At 7/10/2006 7:03 PM, Anonymous Andy said...

It is certainly distressing that a sizable number of worshippers of one faith can hold such fanatical views about a portion of religious text that another has avoided for centuries.

The Bible has similar passages that can be considered extreme by today's standards, but within the context of a fledgling civilization circa 1300 BCE, they can be understood.

1300 BCE, not 2000 AD.

At 7/10/2006 10:22 PM, Blogger Anna Venger said...

There is nothing in the New Testament that is anything like that.

At 7/11/2006 11:47 AM, Anonymous Andy said...

No, which illustrates my point pretty clearly. Even 2000 years ago the rules were changing as the people became ready.

At 7/11/2006 11:55 AM, Blogger Anna Venger said...

But the Koran was written about 600 years later than the NT. Shame they didn't benefit from that "change" in rules.

At 7/11/2006 12:20 PM, Anonymous Andy said...

... but consider the culture that introduced the Quran... not that different than the ancient Hebrews if you think about it. Tribal, nomadic, etc.

600 years later still gave the people who follow 1400 years to figure it out. That's the point I'm making. I don't want to argue about the legitimacy of the books in question really, because there would be no argument.


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