Eugene Cho

heroes you will never hear about: akbar digal, fatima bint mohamed bin uthman al-mutairi, and gayle williams

I read these stories yesterday – on my birthday – and honestly, got pretty discouraged.  I wish the world wasn’t like this.  Got me all thinking and such and got me even more down. And while I know that the cynicism in all of us might think,

“Dude, this is nothing compared to everything else that’s going on…”

But let’s not move on so quick.  These are tragic news.  Examples of injustice and a fallen world.  Wrong and evil. 

I was particularly shaken by the news of the persecution directed at Christians in India right now including Hindustanti Covenant Church and the murder of their pastor Akbar Digal.  I was supposed to spend some time with him and their church in December during a trip out to India [that will likely not happen now]. 

But I also wanted to share these sisters and brother with you as examples of Beauty and Courage.  Why?  Because they are heroes that you’ll likely never hear about.  People who lived with a sense of purpose and conviction that was shaped by the love and grace of Christ.  Would you honor their lives by reading a glimpse of their stories?  And would you take a few minutes today to remember the women, men, and children around the world that are living outside their comfort zones in obedience to Faith in Christ?

Lord, have mercy…

The story of Gayle Williams on CNN [Taliban: Aid Worker killed for Preaching] and her story entitled Killed for Being Christian [The Independent]:

Gayle Williams worked with the poorest and most unfortunate of the children in Afghanistan, young boys and girls who had lost limbs to landmines and bombs. She was dedicated to her task of teaching them the basic skills needed to survive in a harsh and violent land. Yesterday the 34-year-old British woman was murdered while walking along a quiet, tree-lined street in Kabul on her way to work.

She believed in living among the people she served, staying in a modest private house, shunning an armed escort in favour of using her own two feet. She made an easy target for the two gunmen who had been lying in wait for her. One of the men got off the motorcycle, walked up to Ms Williams and opened fire at close range. She was already dead by the time her killers had weaved their way through the crowd at Kart-e-Char, leaving her corpse in a pool of blood. 

Ms Williams had been in the country for two and a half years, working for a charity called Serve Afghanistan, which helps disabled children and adults to learn to live with their handicaps. A Taliban spokesman, Zabiullah Mujahid, declared that she had been executed “because she was working for an organisation which was preaching Christianity in Afghanistan”. Converting from Islam to Christianity is a capital offence in Afghanistan but friends and colleagues of Ms Williams stressed that while the organisation she worked for was Christian in its beliefs, she was extremely careful not to try to convert Afghans.

And here’s the story of Hindustani Covenant Church and the persecution affecting many Christians in India right now.  You can also read about Pastor Akbal Digar’s death on India Times [Warning: the story is graphic because the murder was graphic].

BHUBANESHWAR, INDIA (October 20, 2008) – Members of the Hindustani Covenant Church (HCC) continue to be victims of deadly violence by Hindu extremists directed at Christians in the Orissa region, writes Moderator Steven David in an email. The moderator is similar in position to the president of the Evangelical Covenant Church.The violence erupted in August following the murder of a local leader of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), a nationalist Hindu organization. The VHP initially blamed Christians, but the India government says a Maoist organization probably was responsible.  This is the second time in less than a year that the VHP has led attacks on Christians in the region. Last December, Hindus destroyed 95 churches and killed at least five Christians, according to news reports.

“The situation of Christians in Orissa is still grim,” David writes. “Worse is the situation of the Christians in Kandhamal (a district of Orissa) as communal tension still exists there.”

 Hindustani Covenant Church pastor Akbar Digal was killed recently when Hindu extremists slit his throat, David writes. Other church members have been attacked and had their homes and businesses destroyed. [read full article]

And finally the beautiful, painful, and amazing story of Fatima bint Mohamed bin Uthman Al-Mutairi from the Voice of Martyr:

The life and testimony of Fatima bint Mohamed bin Uthman Al-Mutairi, a 26-year-old Saudi woman who was killed by her own brother in August 2008 because she followed Jesus Christ.

Fatima loved her Savior enough to die for His name. She loved her family enough to proclaim the truth to them, despite the terror and danger. She loved her people, the Saudi people, and was exceedingly proud to be Saudi. She loved Saudi Arabia with all of her heart, as her poem clearly portrays. She is blessed, for Christ said, “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for thiers is the kingdom of heaven.” Indeed, she beholds the kingdom of heaven even now.

Fatima was burned alive after having her tongue cut by her brother. But her words are not cut from our memories. Her words will stand, and they speak of Christ who loves her people…Christ who died for their sins.

In her last letter before her death, after being locked in her room for 4 hours, she cited David’s Psalm:

“The Lord is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear?” (Psalm 27)

Truly, truly, the Spirit of the Lord was with her when she died for his Name. Glory be to God.

May the Lord Jesus guide you, Oh Muslims
رب يسوع يهديكم يا مسلمين
And enlighten your hearts that you might love others
و ينور قلوبكم و تحبّون الاخـريـن
The forum does not revile the Master of the prophets
الملتقى ما يشتم بسيد المرسلين
It is for the display of
truth, and for you it was revealed
هو لإضهار الحقيقة و عشانكم تبين
This is the truth which you do not know
هذى الحقيقة اللي أنتم عنها غايبين
What we profess are the words of the Master of the prophets
و ما نقوله هو من كلام سيد المرسلين
We do not worship th
e cross, and we are not possessed
و احنا ما نعبد الصـليب و لانا ابمجانين
We worship the Lord Jesus, the Light of the worlds
احنا نعبد الرب يسوع نور العالمين
We left Mohammed, and we do not follow in his path
محمد تركناه و بدربه محنا سالكين
We followed Jesu
s Christ, the Clear Truth
و اتبعنا يسوع المسيح الحق المبين
Truly, we love our homeland, and we are not traitors
و بصـراحه حنا نحب ديرتنا و محنا خاينين
We take pride that we are Saudi citizens
و نفتخر انّّّّ حنا مواطنين سعوديين
How could we betray our homel
and, our dear people?
كيف نخون وطنّا و أهلنا الغالين؟؟
How could we, when for death—for Saudi Arabia— we stand ready?
كيف و احنا للموت للسعودية مستعدين؟؟
The homeland of my grandfathers, their glories, and odes—for it I am writing
ديرة أجدادي و أمجادي و للقصيد لها كاتبين
And we say, “We are proud, proud, proud to be Saudis”
و نقول فخر فخر فخر احنا سعوديين
We chose our way, the way of the rightly guided
احنا اخترنا طريقنا طريق المهتدين
And every man is free to choose any religion
و كل إنسان حر لإختار أي دين
Be content to leave us to ourselves to be believers in Jesus
تكفون اتركونا بحالنا و بيسوع مؤمنين
Let us live in grace before our time comes
خلونا نتهنى في حياتنا قبل ساعتنا تحين
There are tears on my cheek, and Oh! the heart is sad
دمعتي فوق خدي اااه و القلب حزين
To those who become Christians, how you are so cruel!
على حال المتنصـرين يا كيف أنتم قاسين
And the Messiah says, “Blessed are the Persecuted”
و المسيح يقول طوبى لكم المضطهدين
And we for the sake of Christ all things bear
و حنا عشان المسيح لكل شي متحملين
What is it to you that we are infidels?
وش لك وش عليكم إحنا كافرين
You do not enter our graves, as if with us buried
منتم ابداخلين قبورنا و معنا مدفونين
Enough—your swords do not concern me, not evil nor disgrace
خلاص ما تهمني سيوفكم و لا شين
Your threats do not trouble me, and we are not afraid
و لا يهمني تهديدكم و ما حنا خايفين
And by God, I am unto death a Christian—Verily
والله انا للموت مسيحية و يا عين
I cry for what passed by, of a sad life
أبكي على ما فات من عمر حزين
I was far from th
e Lord Jesus for many years
كنت بعيده عن الرب يسوع عدة سنين
Oh History record! and bear witness, Oh Witnesses!
و سجل يا تأريخ و اشهدوا يا شاهدين
We are Christians— in the path of Christ we tread
احنا مسيحيين بدرب المسيح ماشين
Take from me this word, and
note it well
و خذها مني معلومه و احفظها زين
You see, Jesus is my Lord, and He is the Best of protectors
ترى يسوع ربي هو احفظ الحافظين
I advise you to pity yourself, to clap your hands in mourning
أنصحك ترثي حالك و تصفق بكفين
See your look of ugly hatred
و تشوف شكلك من الحقد كيف هو يشين
Man is brother to man, Oh learned ones
الإنسان أخو إنسان يا متعلمين!!!
Where is the humanity, the love, and where are you?
وين الإنسانيه و المحبه و أنتم وين
As to my last words, I pray to the Lord of the worlds
و اخر كلامي أصلي لرب العالمين
Jesus the Messiah, the Light of Clear Guidance
يسوع المسيح نور الهدايه المبين
That He change notions, and set the scales of justice aright
يغير المفاهيم و يعدل الموازين
And that He spread Love among you, Oh Muslims
و ينــــشرالمحبه بينكم يا مسلميــــــــــــــــــــــــن

Filed under: religion, ,

10 Responses

  1. Sue says:

    Thank you Eugene for sharing the stories of all three of these people. We are all sleeping and this post reminds me at least that I need to wake up.

  2. […] 21, 2008 by thelinkbetween This is a post on recent Christian martyr’s from Eugene Cho’s blog, Beauty and Depravity.  And to […]

  3. Tara says:

    I also wept when I read about Gayle. I have heard that there are more martyrs today t than at any other time of the church. What is obscene to me is the evil that propels these attacks.

    Thanks for giving this more light. It reminds us to pray for those outside the safety of our US borders.

    BTW…Happy Birthday.

  4. CC says:

    I am sorry to hear as well. I normally don’t have tiem to read much stuff on Facebook but stumbled across yours and it truly caught my attention. We helped plant a church in India also and it is undergoing great persecution. My heart is all over the place on things like this. Anger, wanting to stop it all, brokeness, joy over their great honor to suffer for Christ, fear for my children and the coming generations in our own country, etc… Keep on seeking his greater glory Eugene. You are doing a great job!

  5. PKM says:

    my husband and i were in india over the summer and staying with an ecc church in bangalore. we felt like their ministry was going so well and God was really blessing them and it felt relaxed to talk about Christ. It was such a shock to us that just a month later, things changed so quickly. Every time we get an update from them, it makes me worried. The India we saw and left is not the India right now.

  6. Ryan says:

    Eugene, thanks for posting. Tragic news.

  7. Lou says:

    Let us all remember Fatima Al-Mutairi who died for her faith August 2008

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It appears I brought a little Seattle to the NYC. Drizzle fest. 24 hour gathering with a small group of leaders from around the country. Learning. Listening. Asking hard questions. Head exploding. Heart trying to have hope. As I soaked in this breathtaking sunrise this morning above the clouds, I felt compelled to pray for so my places in America and around the world that are experiencing such pain, heartache, injustice, and violence. At times, it feels so overwhelming but in prayer, I was reminded of these words from John 16:33. As we keep striving, working, hoping, preaching, loving, truthtelling, reconciling, repenting, forgiving, dismantling, peacemaking, Kingdom building...may we fix our eyes on Christ: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” - John 16:33 Grateful for a very full weekend of ministry and preaching in Toronto, Canada (GTA). Such a privilege to partner with @worldvisioncan @wvcollective to advocate for the most vulnerable around the world. God is so gracious. A true honor to meet and encourage local pastors, lecture at Tyndale University & Seminary (photo), and preach at Richmond Hills Community Church, Compass Point Bible Church, and New City Church. Thank you, Lord, that you use broken and imperfect people like me to speak of Your love. Today, Minhee and I dropped off our eldest child at her college. We have been thinking and praying about this day for many years. On some days, we hoped it would never come. On other days, we couldn't wait for it to come. On some days, we prayed for time to stop and other days, we prayed with anticipation. 
After an entire summer of laughing it off, it hit us...hard...this week. Seeing all of her stuff laid out on the basement floor was the catalyst to a load of emotions.

After unloading the car and taking her stuff to her new home for this year and mindful that she might never live with us again; helping sort out her stuff, saying hello to her roommates...I wasn't sure what to do or say.

A flood of thoughts rushed my mind.

Is she ready?
Have we done enough?
Have we taught her enough? 
What if this? What if that?

And so we shared what we have shared with her the moment she began to understand words: "Remember who you are. Remember WHO you belong to. Remember what you're about. God loves you so much. Please hold God's Word and His promises close and dear to your heart. We love you so much and we are so proud of you." And with that, we said goodbye. Even if she may not be thousands of miles away, this is a new chapter for her and even for us. I kept it composed. Her roommate was staring at me. I didn't want to be that father. I have street cred to uphold. Another final hug. 
And I came home.
And I wept.
Forget my street cred.
I miss her. I love her.
She will always be my little baby.

I'm no parenting guru. I just laughed as I wrote that line. No, I'm stumbling and bumbling along but I'd love to share an ephiphany I learned not that long ago. Coming to this realization was incredibly painful but simultaneously, liberating. To be honest, it was the ultimate game-changer in my understanding as a parent seeking after the heart of God.

While there are many methods, tools, philosophies, and biblical principles to parenting, there is – in my opinion – only one purpose or destination.

Our purpose as parents is to eventually…release them. Send forth. For His glory. Met a friend and fellow pastor who I haven't seen in over 20 years. In him, I saw a glimpse of my future. While only 10 years older, his kids are married and he's now a grandfather of 3. His love for his wife and family were so evident and his passion for the Gospel has not wavered. It was so good to see someone a bit older still passionately serving the Lord with such joy and faithfulness. Lord, help me to keep running the race for your Glory. Happy wife.
Happy life. - Eugenius 3:16

I still remember that time, many years ago, when Minhee was pregnant with our first child. She had left her family and friends in Korea just two years before. Her morning sickness was horrible and when she finally had an appetite, she craved her favorite Korean food from certain restaurants in her neighborhood in Seoul, Korea. I had no way of getting that food from those restaurants so I actually said, "How about a Whopper? Big Mac?" Sorry honey. Eat away. You deserve it.

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