Sold Into a Loveless Marriage, Now a Daughter of the King: A Holy Week Meditation

“… Nevertheless (and that is a good resurrection word), the strong love of God always has the final word. Nothing can hold it back from working out its purposes. Not only does the Holy One experience our suffering as though it were his own, he is also relentlessly seeking to bring light and life where there seems to be only darkness and death. When this happens for us, even in a small way, we experience a “little Easter.”… Just about any time we are surprised with new possibilities for life and healing in the midst of brokenness and decay, there is a “little Easter” that gives us a glimpse of the resurrection power of God’s love made manifest in the crucified and risen Jesus.” 

This year during Holy Week, we wanted to share these words from South African pastor Trevor Hudson. A few Rooted writers will share some “little Easters” of their own. We hope these “glimpses of the resurrection power of God’s love” will enlighten the eyes of your faith as you look toward the Cross and to the empty tomb.

Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed.

Hessam is a young man from an Islamic family living in Iran. A few years ago Hessam’s father — needing money to support his drug habit — sold his sister, Mojdeh, to a member of the Taliban. She was taken to Afghanistan.

Hessam began to think about ways to rescue his sister.

Then, Hessam heard the gospel from another Christian in Iran and gave his life to Jesus. He began to be discipled one-on-one, learning how to walk with Jesus.

Quickly, as he experienced new life in Jesus, Hessam realized that there was a way his sister could be rescued: Jesus.

Hessam began telling his sister, Mojdeh, about Jesus over the phone. Each week Hessam would meet one-on-one with the person discipling him. And each week Hessam would call Mojdeh and relay everything he had learned about walking with Jesus.

Soon, Mojdeh also gave her life to Jesus. As Hessam discipled her, she began to experience joy, despite her miserable circumstances. A Bible was arranged to get to her.

And then Mojdeh started telling others in Afghanistan about Jesus. Soon, four of her Taliban husband’s sisters also came to Christ.

Mojdeh started sharing everything Hessam shared with her with the four sisters. Jesus began changing them.

A year later, Hessam was invited to join a 2-week discipleship course to grow in responsibility in reaching and discipling others.

He did the same thing that he had done before: everything he learned, he shared with Mojdeh over the phone. Mojdeh then shared it with her four sister-in-laws in Afghanistan.

In the 2-week course, Hessam learned that its not enough to just forgive our enemies, we must also share the gospel with them and pray for their salvation. Hessam realized that he had to forgive his father and the man who bought his sister. He was convicted that he must also intercede for these men in prayer, that they too would come to Jesus and be changed.

And yet, Hessam was afraid to share this part with his sister. He knew that Mojdeh would actually do it. He also knew, that sharing her faith with her Taliban husband could easily lead to her death.

When Hessam phoned Mojdeh and shared what he had learned, Mojdeh said, “Tell your class to pray for me, because I will share the gospel with my husband. Either he will kill me and his four sisters, or he will give his heart to Jesus.”

The group prayed for Mojdeh.

With courage, Mojdeh went to her husband and explained how Jesus came into her heart and changed her life. She said that she had been praying for him. Mojdeh said to her husband, “I am ready to die to tell you this. But, I cant hide this from you anymore. I want you to be saved.” She showed him her Bible.

Her husband was shocked.

He responded, “I was wondering what had happened to you lately. You smile at me now and havent tried to run away anymore. You have even been kind to me. If Jesus and this book have made you love me and accept me as your husband, I will allow you to remain a Christian. But I will not become a Christian.”

But Hessam, Mojdeh, and many others are praying with faith that he will.

Friends, this is what we celebrate this Easter season: Mojdeh was sold as a wife to a Taliban husband in Afghanistan, but now she has been transformed into a daughter of the King. It’s a journey from defeat to triumph, from death to new life in Jesus.

And it’s not an isolated story — through my work, I’m regularly hearing stories of God bringing new life in and through the unlikeliest of people.

The God at work in these stories is the same God at work in your life, your church, your community. There is no one too far gone to be saved. There is no situation into which God can’t reach. And miraculously, God is powerful enough to use the faithfulness of ordinary people to do extraordinary things. In fact, God delights in showing his power through our weakness (c.f. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians— both of them!).

But we must be willing to journey though Good Friday to Resurrection Sunday. Discipleship requires joyful sacrifice, love-filled risk, prayer-saturated boldness — all rooted in our walk with Jesus. This is what Jesus did for us, and it’s what he asks us to do as we follow him.

To use Bonhoeffer’s phrase, the grace we have in Jesus is not a cheap grace. It’s costly. It cost Jesus his life. And now he asks us to surrender our lives to him in faithful obedience. And through both Jesus’ death, and our surrendering, new life — New Creation — is found.

I happened for Hessam in Iran. It happened for Mojdeh and her four sister-in-laws in Afghanistan. I can happen for you wherever you are. It can happen for your youth, wherever they are, too.

Please see also our featured podcast: “Little Easters” with Robert Row.

Mark Howard was a youth pastor for five years before joining Elam Ministries, an organization that seeks to strengthen and expand the church in Iran and surrounding areas. Through Elam, he's had the opportunity to work with Iranian youth as well as talk with American churches about God's work in Iran. Mark has his M.A. in Theological Studies from Wheaton College Graduate School and serves on Rooted's steering committee.

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