I have been praying this morning for Meriam Ibrahim, 27, a Christian woman in a Sudanese prison–with her 20-month old son Martin and 1-day-old baby daughter Maya. Meriam has been imprisoned since September, most of that time chained to the floor of her cell.
Meriam is accused (falsely) of converting from Islam to Christianity. (She was in fact raised as a Christian by a Christian mother and has never been Muslim.) She has been accused of adultery for conjugal relations with her American Christian husband.
Meriam was given four days to recant and declined. For having sex with her husband she has been sentenced to 100 lashes. For “converting” to Christianity, she has been sentenced to hang.
How to pray? Of course for Meriam’s life to be spared. For her release. For justice to be done.
But the intense sense of anger rising within me tempts me to pray that the Marines would be allowed to do a “Private Ryan” and gun down everyone in the prison to get her out. And that is not the heart of God. He cares about her captors, too. He has a different kind of rescue in mind, whether Meriam is spared or not, something even bigger and better than her release or even her life. Something redemptive. Something that will spread His justice, mercy, love, and forgiveness from this situation He has orchestrated to penetrate and soften the hearts and relationships of all those touched by it.
Maya was born yesterday (even as another Maya–Maya Angelou–died) in the hospital wing at Omdurman Federal Women’s Prison in North Khartoum. As soon as Meriam recovers from childbirth she will be flogged. And in two years, once Maya is weaned, the mother will be hanged. The children will be taken away and raised Muslim; their father Daniel, who lives in New Hampshire and was in the process of getting his family to join him there, will not be allowed to raise his children.
I have been praying that the cell where Meriam and her children are held will be a peaceful place, a sweet refuge from the insanity and barbarism of her accusers, a stable as full of light and the gentle, nurturing presence of God as the one in Bethlehem. I pray that she will trust the Lord for each day and not be concerned about the future, that she will convey to her son that they are safe and all is well.
I pray she will heal fully from childbirth, from any lacerations inflicted afterwards, that she will have enough milk, on the prison diet, for her baby.
I pray all those who deal with her and her little ones personally–doctors, nurses, guards–will be gentle and sympathetic, giving her extra portions of food and words of encouragement. (See the tender, absorbed expressions on the faces of the guards feeding her son in the link below. Pray for them.) I pray Meriam’s refusal to deny the truth even in the face of death will make a powerful, positive impact on everyone who meets or reads about her.
I pray for stamina and patience for her husband Daniel, that he will look beyond Sudanese officials and the American Embassy for help and not yield to depression or rage.
I pray for the legal team defending Meriam. These five brave men (watch the video in the link below) say they are proud to be Muslims–and proud to be Muslims defending a Christian. Pray that they will be protected from retaliation by less-enlightened fellow Muslims.
I pray that if Meriam is hanged and her son Martin is raised Muslim, he will be a mighty Moses within the enemy camp to overturn brutality from the inside. I pray Maya, too, may be a blazing light of truth and forgiveness to her persecutors.
Two mighty Moseses.
Lots of pictures of Daniel and Meriam and of Daniel with his son and newborn daughter, are at http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2642088/Joy-amid-nightmare-Exclusive-picture-baby-Maya-born-barbaric-Sudanese-jail-mother-sentenced-hang-marrying-Christian-U-S-citizen.html