Secret believers in Central Asia often face a big challenge regarding the issue of honour and shame, as upholding the honour of the family is one of the most important duties, particularly when it comes to women. Samida*, a 26-year-old Christian woman from Central Asia, is bringing shame on her family in two ways: She is still single and has strayed from her family traditions and culture by adhering to a “foreign religion”.
A shame to be single
In Samida’s culture, not being married and having children by the age of 21 is considered unusual – never mind the age of 26. Marriage is viewed as a way for women to achieve a respectable status, a level of dignity and value. However, as the years pass, Samida’s parents do not receive any negotiations for her hand in marriage, which stirs up gossip and embarrassment for them within their community.
Staying faithful to Jesus
Samida’s parents became Christians when she was a teenager in hopes that her father, who is almost blind, would be healed. Samida’s parents were deeply disappointed with Christianity and the Lord Jesus when he was not healed, so they decided to return to Islam.
However, Samida stayed faithful to Jesus and held on to her new-found hope – despite the long road of suffering ahead for her. Her parents take their frustration out on her, saying: “It is your fault; you dishonour us by holding on to Christianity. No wonder there are no suitors for you! You bring shame on this household!” Every day she must listen to these words, which are accompanied by many beatings.
Sharing the shed with animals
One of the jobs Samida has in the family is caring for the sheep and goats. Every day she would go into the fields with the animals and dig up her New Testament, which was buried in the field. Reading it kept her going in times of despair. However, one day her mother caught her doing so. She was so furious with her that she beat her terribly and burned her Bible before her eyes.
Recently other Christians in her area saw her crying, and she had a black eye. Her mother had grasped her by her hair, dragged her onto the market square in town and beaten her with a rod in front of everyone. “I am working day and night for my parents. They treat me like a slave and tell everyone that I am a bad and lazy woman. Now they tell me that there is no more room for me in the house and that it is better that I share the shed with the animals.”
Support to stand strong
Thanks to the gifts and prayers of supporters, Open Doors helped Samida through the secret Church in Central Asia with practical and emotional support, a Bible and training from God’s Word, which taught her how to stand strong as a Christian in a hostile environment.
Through your financial gift, you can also empower women to remain steadfast when persecuted. For as little as R250, you can support one persecuted woman with relief aid and safe housing. Click here to give a gift today!
*Name changed and representative images used for security reasons.