Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: FAMILY (01/21/16)
TITLE: Wedding Day
By Gary Ritter
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I had hoped that Pastor Samuel might have some way for me to stop this terrible event that Father planned, but he had no strength in the face of this religion; I had even less.
With a sad nod I slipped out of the church, checking carefully that no one saw me leave. The long walk home over the dusty road with the sun low in the west gave me time to think and pray. My four brothers and two sisters would not help; they were faithful followers of Islam like my parents. Even my mother wouldn’t – couldn’t – lift a finger. Father had every right to take another wife. Because he followed the prophet, believing every word of Muhammad as the perfect man, Father also believed that taking a child bride was a righteous act.
I found it disgusting that this little girl Father would marry was only nine, barely four years younger than me. Aisha’s parents had willingly agreed to give her away at the price Father offered. How a god could justify these actions made me want to throw up. In the last year my eyes finally opened and I became the only follower of Christ in my family. Because of the danger not one of them knew.
Our growing family necessitated my sharing a bedroom with my next oldest brother. I was the youngest and often made fun of because I didn’t aspire to killing infidels. None could understand how I wanted to study medicine and save people’s lives as a doctor. Privacy was always rare, but I had the bedroom to myself briefly. With a practiced move I slipped my Bible from my backpack into its hiding place.
The next day brought the dreaded event. Aisha’s parents delivered her to the local mosque where the wedding would be held. No one else appeared to see the fear in her eyes or her trembling hands. Women, girls: all were nothing but objects to be used and Aisha, young as she was, was no exception.
We had a moment in which we were alone together. Somehow she knew I was different. She saw in me the love for someone placed in an impossible situation. I barely heard the whispered plea. “Help me.”
I was no more than a child myself. What could I possibly do? And if I did anything, the reason would be found out. My family would know of my apostasy, that I had turned away from the faith of my father and humiliated him. I would lose everything I had ever known. Father would disown me. The cost was so great! I shook my head no. I couldn’t begin to take such a step.
The events of the day proceeded with the celebrating families talking, joking, preparing for the vows, the women apart from the men. My heart burned within me and I cried out to God. His only answer was the constant urging I felt to deliver Aisha from this fate.
I argued and bargained; all to no effect. The time of commitment approached. I had no idea what to do.
Suddenly an explosion nearby captured our attention, with everyone running to the front of the mosque. Without another thought I snatched Aisha’s hand and half dragged her to the rear door. Outside I led her down winding streets and alleys onto the dusty road toward the only place I could think might provide safety.
We made it to the church undetected just as Pastor Samuel lifted his head from tending to a few scraggly flowers in a nearby bed. He expressed as much surprise as I felt from our bold escape.
“Malik, you found a way.” He nodded his approval. “Come inside. I know how she can quickly disappear.”
He made a phone call to a trusted colleague and within the hour a car drew up. The man and woman heard our story and immediately agreed to take Aisha to a safe house.
“Will you come, too?”
I hadn’t considered it. Would it be cowardly or prudent? I chose to stay.
Back home amidst the chaos and anger, my family knew I was responsible. Soon it came out that I was Christian. Father locked me in a closet promising I’d remain there until I gave up Aisha’s location.
While I wait, I trust in God’s mercy.
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