Blood streams onto Anosha’s shirt. Contusions swell beside her discolored eyes. Her shoulders slump in anticipation of the next blow.
“Denounce your god. Return to the only true way and you can go home.”
Compared to the guard’s loud shouts, her voice is barely audible, “No.”
The tallest guard yanks back her hair and screams. “For the last time, I will ask you. Who is God?”
“Jesus Christ. Jehovah. The Great I AM.”
Spit hurdles out of his mouth and splatters onto her upturned face. “Not in this country, he isn’t. Put your hijab back on, you whore.”
Looking unto Jesus
A metal door creaks on its hinges and slams against concrete. The guards shove Anosha into the darkness. A click of the lock closes her in from sunlight…from fresh-air…from freedom…from her family.
“Faraj, Neshat, Safa…if only I could have protected you.” Tears drop like red rain. “My children are orphans.”
A crack of light sneaks under the door and discloses the contents of the room. In one corner, water drips from above onto a rotting board covering the smell of sewage. The narrow shaft of light reveals hay bearing the imprint of a body.
With clenched teeth, Anosha’s creeps across the floor until she reaches the pile. Her bruised eyelids fall upon her swollen cheeks.
the author and finisher of our faith
A bright light startles her awake and a faceless hand pushes a bowl of food into the room. Bread and water are to be her source of nourishment. The stale water quenches only a fraction of her parched throat while the bread causes waves of pain to resonate in her head.
Her heart cries out the words that will not make it past her throat. “I love you, Jesus…but I don’t understand why our church was discovered. Ramyar tried to be so careful, so secretive. Now, he’s home with you.” A great gush of sorrow breaks as she remembers her husband’s death. “He didn’t deny you even when they raised their guns.”
“Ramyar, I want to be there with you. Jesus, what delight he must experience at seeing you face to face.”
who for the joy that was set before him
A metallic scrape disrupts her reverie. The hand returns to grab the emptied bowl as Anosha stares at the ceiling. In the crevices, a cross with arms stretched wide and head held high is revealed.
“Give me your bowl, you dog, before I come in and beat you.”
“Here. Please can I have more water?” The door slams shut.
“Lord, I thank you that have made streams of living water flow out through me. I thank you that my thirst for righteousness will be fulfilled.”
endured the cross
Something jabs through the hay into Anosha. She reaches in to draw out a jagged reflection of herself. “Is that really me?” Scratches in the back of the mirror arouse her curiosity. The beams from under the door display a drawing of a specific place in the cell.
Her breath catches in her throat as she crawls to the location. When the wall gives way, she gasps at the sight. A pocket sized Bible lays hidden in the crumbs of concrete. “Thank you, Jesus! You supply my every need!”
despising the shame
Hours of pain and solitude turn into days and weeks. Her only means of counting time the daily supply of bread and water. Her skin begins to hang from her bones. Her lips gather a bluish tint and her pulse races through her veins.
On the twenty-first day of isolation, the plodding of boots stops outside her door. “I’ve already had my bread today,” she remembers. Anosha clamps her eyes together as the door opens fully. A guard stands in the glare.
“Get up, you stupid infidel. It’s time to renounce your god.”
and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
*Italicized-Hebrews 12:2 KJV
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