This week is my first week back in the office after a 12-week maternity leave. Our beautiful daughter was born Dec. 29 and I enjoyed spending the first weeks of her life concentrating on her needs. We named her “Rajah,” a transliteration of the word for “hope” used in Arabic Bibles when it refers to future hope. Here on earth we expect tribulation, enduring patiently, but we also rejoice in our hope for the future (Romans 12:12).
Though I’ve been out of the office, my thoughts have never been far from our persecuted family members. In the last three months, my husband and I have hosted VOM workers from Syria, Lebanon, Turkey and Israel in our home. Each time we introduced Rajah to our Middle Eastern brothers and sisters, every one of our friends immediately offered a blessing over our baby daughter.
It was beautiful to witness and so amazing to consider how God will use her life in the future. She will likely face tribulation for her faith, just as our Middle Eastern brothers and sisters experience today, but I pray that she will continue to rejoice in hope and remain constant in prayer as she goes through persecution.
When our friends blessed Rajah, they weren’t blessing her flippantly or as a trite means of congratulations. These are men and women whose lives are dedicated to serving hurting Christians and reaching people for Christ in overwhelmingly Muslim nations. They prayed for God’s favor for Rajah in expectation that she, too, will be used by the Lord to point people to his truth.
This path might not be easy. We see over and over how God doesn’t always protect his followers from every evil, but he does use every circumstance for his glory. Our friend from Turkey was nearly beaten to death for being a Christian, but today he’s involved in a ministry that is sharing the gospel with large numbers of Turkish Muslims.
Our friend from Syria gets phone calls nearly every day detailing how Christians in his country are being expelled and entire villages wiped out. There are threats against his church.
Just this week, colleagues of our Lebanese friend were beaten as they passed out Christian literature and relief supplies to refugees. And the church of our brother from Israel has been bombed and burned on a number of occasions.
So when our friends bless Rajah, do they bless to request God’s favor and protection on her? No, they bless her to dedicate her to God’s service, a position they know from experience is not always pain-free, but they also know that there is no better place to spend a life than to spend it dedicated to God’s service.
That is my prayer for my daughter, for myself and for all of us as we work together to fellowship with the persecuted. We may need to make difficult choices, endure difficult circumstances, but we do so in hope that we will someday enjoy an eternity worshipping the only One who is worthy of our efforts.
Dory P. has worked with VOM for seven years. She grew up in Ecuador, met her husband while working with another mission organization, and now lives in Oklahoma. Between Dory, her husband, three-year-old son and infant daughter, they share seven passports. Dory helps tell the stories of the persecuted through VOM's newsletter, and her husband serves with VOM's international department.