A couple of weeks ago, we sent out a letter sharing the story of *Lina (name changed). This story has mobilized TWR staff and supporters across North America to pray.
If you didn’t read or receive the letter, let me recap briefly what’s touched so many so deeply. In many countries, we work through local partners for translation and contextualization of content. (Contextualization is using words and phrases that are familiar to that listening audience. For instance, ‘where the rubber meets the road’ would mean little to a nomad in an African desert or herder in northern China.) Those who partner with us in areas of high persecution do so at great risk to themselves. Lina is one of these people.
Lina is a vibrant and educated young woman who is full of enthusiasm and generously shares her love of life and her Lord. She could no longer keep quiet about the love and the grace found in a relationship with Jesus. She understood the risks if she was caught.
The translation work that she completed has brought the message of the Gospel to thousands of listeners. And we know that God’s Word does not return void.
Not long ago, Secret Police arrested Lina. They searched her apartment and took her phone, laptop and passport, and charged her with nearly a dozen offences related to her faith in Christ.
For 13 days, Lina was kept in solitary confinement and interrogated. Now, she no longer smiles or laughs. She stares at the floor when people speak to her. She could not even stand on her own. She remains under house arrest with a male relative, where she cannot leave or have outside contact until she renounces her Christian faith. There has been no change in this situation in a number of weeks.
Even if all that we hope for happens and she regains her freedom, Lina has no future in her home country. She will require significant counselling to overcome the trauma she’s endured. If she’s able to leave her home country, she must adapt to a new culture and maybe a new language.
“We know that for those who love God all things work together for good…” Romans 8:28 (ESV).
Sounds extreme, right? It is. There is another woman, M, who was tortured and kept in captivity in her home country for her faith for 3 months. Safe in another country now, I asked M via email what Lina faces in order to heal and overcome this trial.
What physical or emotional issues did you experience after your release and escape from your home country?
Depression, terror, stress, anorexia, nausea, disturbed sleep and eating, nightmares of rape, execution, beating, and being arrested. I used to jump out of bed screaming. I had dreams about being chased, having conversations taped and listening devices in my home. I dream of being under constant observation. When my children were even a few minutes late, I would fear they had been kidnapped. I lived in fear that I was being followed, and when I visited countries near my home country, I was frightened that they [the Secret Police] could arrest me or kill me there. I could go on.
Are you still dealing with issues as a result of your experience?
Yes – of course, but now I am more mature and wise. I appreciate the things I have like freedom and health. I have more endurance to face problems. My trust and reliance on God have grown and I value my beloved ones more than before. I have more courage and bravery in sharing my faith and God’s work in my life.
Now, when I offer advice and counsel to others, I am able to use my experiences. My unique experiences mean I have gone through things that few people have, and I can use that to encourage others.
Please continue to pray for Lina. Pray for her life, her release, for safety, encouragement and healing. Someone in the office handy with a computer created these prayer cards (above). Feel free to print this off at home and slip it into your Bible, stick it to your fridge – wherever you will be reminded to pray. Print off more than one and share it with your neighbours, your Bible study group, or your church. As I learn more, I will post updates here. Prayer card pdf here.
Featured Image Photo Credit: Stephen Woo