I remember walking into my church one Sunday morning, about 10yrs ago.
I wasn’t a Christian, but I was eager to learn what it was all about.
Looking up at the screen while the Praise team was on stage, I read through the words;
And I noticed that there was something that said, “ Psalm…”
I had no idea what it really meant.
So I asked.
“It is a verse from the bible, the music comes from that.”
Never having opened a bible except Genesis occasionally; I never knew anything MORE could be read in there; I never knew a song could be created from those words.
I would imagine that is how twelve year old, Tara felt the first time she walked into a church.
Except she had recognized the verses as they were sung; and like me, she thought it was amazing to know it was all about MORE than reading the verses in the bible.
It actually was apart of everyday life.
The difference with Tara though, is that she didn’t have the freedom to express her thoughts on being a Christian;
She was a Muslim.
In her family no other religion existed, except Islam.
Tara was drawn to the bible though, she read each story with such respect and such reverence daily.
She knew in her heart she wasn’t Muslim.
For two years Tara attended a school to learn more about Christianity, in secret.
When she graduated, she was given a bible with her name on it.
She knew what could happen if someone found her with it.
How Tara came to attend church for the first time, was by meeting a young Christian in a school courtyard, and he invited her to come.
While she stood in church, experiencing so many wonderful things; she noticed the Pastor asked if anyone wanted to come forward who needed to be prayed for.
It surprised her that knowing Jesus gave people freedom to just go to him, without condition.
She watched a young crippled girl go up to be prayed for, and as people prayed saw the girl begin to move; and HEALED!
That same young girl walked over to Tara and spoke, “ Emmanuel”
Tara didn’t really know what it meant, or how she was supposed to respond.
She was determined to find out more about this faith they all kept talking about.
She read the bible cover to cover looking for answers.
Tara decided to attend another church service, and started to ask questions to the Pastor.
She began to trust them, and feeling comfortable standing in the same room.
The Pastor ended up not being someone that could be trusted; he was uncomfortable that she had asked him so many questions, and told her father that she had been coming to him.
Her father of course was extremely enraged; he favored Tara, and felt completely betrayed.
He sent her to her room shouting all kinds of words.
Later, he went to her room feeling guilty, and when he opened the door he found her crying on the floor reading the bible.
He brought physical harm to her, and left many bruises.
He had never treated her that way before.
Days later her family decided they would arrange for Tara to be married.
When they approached her this was the answer she gave them,
“ No Daddy, I don’t want to marry. I’m to young. Who is he? What is his religion?”
At that moment, her family knew she had converted into Christianity because she accepted that there were other religions.
Her father and brother began to throw all sorts of things at her that was in her room, books, dolls, glass, furniture…
She was left there bleeding.
Her father shouted at her,
“ Either you marry this Muslim man, or you die here alone, If you are a Christian there is no place here for you in this city!”
For a few days, she came in and out of conscious. A decision had to be made.
One morning, early, she got her stuff together, some money and her passport and she snuck out of her bedroom window.
She was heartbroken. But chose to learn more about Jesus.
Her life running, began at that moment.
1 The LORD is my light and my salvation—
whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the stronghold of my life—
of whom shall I be afraid?
2 When evil men advance against me
to devour my flesh, [a]
when my enemies and my foes attack me,
they will stumble and fall.
3 Though an army besiege me,
my heart will not fear;
though war break out against me,
even then will I be confident.
I believed the word prepared her to leave, I believe that she had to have had some verse going through her heart, whispering through every tear.
I believe without knowing she began to know what “ Emmanuel” really meant.
“ God with us.”
I don’t know about you, but I had to have a stopping point in the middle of this reading; I really visualized her pain, and definitely couldn’t ever imagine going through what she endured.
And knowing, it wasn’t going to end.
We all can relate to her story in some way though, we all have been rejected by this world, for what we believe. Haven’t we?
Tara went and was able to stay with her uncle; he answered her questions about what
“ Emmaunel” meant, and she stayed with him until she heard her father learned of where she was.
He was going to try to kill her.
Arrangements were made that allowed her to live with the Pastor’s family.
However, there she wasn’t allowed to come out of her room.
She spent her time alone praying, and reading the bible, and crying out to God.
22″And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. 23I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. 24However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.
Tara eventually was allowed to come out of her room, when the family thought it was safe.
She was hired as the church secretary, and because the Pastor knew her history, he let her begin converting other Muslims to Christianity.
She began to understand how her story would help others, strengthen them.
One day, her joy of that ministry ended there, when her cousin found her.
She ran from him, and he shouted back,
“Wait, I want to talk to you.”
She didn’t look back.
She phoned her adopted family, and told them she had to run again.
She was once again, on the run.
A church member who was jealous of her, called the Pakistan Intelligence.
Once again, she was on her knees crying out to God to save her from death.
After more than ten years, Tara is still running.
She now has a Christian husband.
Her family still searches for her, but she is always on guard.
Tara is a girl who is running the race for God, truly by God alone.
1Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 2Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
1. I know it is hard after reading Tara’s story to really begin to even imagine what she went through, but I do think it is important to TRY, because we have to be thankful that we can express our faith, nowdays it is just becoming to hard to believe what we want without ridicule or rejection.
So what I am asking you to do, is think on how you would prepare yourself, or your family, if something like this happened to you?
2. Reflect on your own story in finding Jesus, and the chains that once kept you from really living.