A young girl with a grown-up faith.
Sarah sat across from us in the shade of a mud hut and bravely told us about her life with Jesus so far. Sarah grew up in South Sudan, the daughter to strictly Muslim parents. When she started going to a Christian school, she began hearing stories about Jesus. Sarah loved her new school. Although she was the only Muslim girl at her school, she began making friends.
Her friends would share stories and songs with her. She had to know more. She used to sneak to a nearby church on Sundays because her father would not allow anyone in the family to go to church.
One day, she grew bold and told her father, “Dad, now I want to go to the church.” Her father laughed at her and told her very emphatically, “No, Sarah; we are Muslim. My father is a Muslim, your father is a Muslim. You are not allowed to be a Christian.”
Around this time, Sarah and her family were forced to flee South Sudan for safety in northern Uganda. When her family settled in Rhino Refugee Settlement, she began to make new friends, Christian friends. She asked them if they could find her a small Bible. Her friends searched and searched for one; it took them one month to find a Bible for her.
Sarah began reading that Bible every moment she could. She had to hide it from her family because she knew her father would be angry. She remembers that in Islam, religious leaders don’t teach just anyone how to read the Qur’an; you must (a) be a man, and (b) be able to read Arabic. They don’t even let you touch the Qur’an.
As Sarah continued reading her small Bible, she decided she wanted to give her life fully to Jesus. She kept going to church, despite the protests from her family; she studied God’s word as often as she could; she kept her Christian friends close. But when Jesus transforms your life, people start to notice.
Her family noticed the change in Sarah and berated her with questions: “Why did you give your life to Jesus? Why did you change from Muslim to Christian? You must return to Islam.” Her family has tried to force Sarah back into Islam. But Sarah refuses; she tells them “I will never go back; I am now in Christ, I can’t go backwards, only forwards.”
As a result of her faith, Sarah’s family has rejected her: they will not allow her to stay in the house, they will not help pay her school fees, and they call her bad names. Sarah says “My mom doesn’t want me because I am a Christian. When I go to her house to see her, she just starts yelling at me and calling me names; she accuses me of being a prostitute because I am forced to stay with other people in the church.
She says, ‘If your family is rejecting you, then who are you now?’” When she is faced with these heartbreaking questions, Sarah bravely told us, “I don’t have any family or relatives. Because now I am a new person, because I am born again, there is no other person that I have, it is only Jesus. He is my friend and He will be my family.”
Sarah continues to live with members of the church she is attending. Her prayer is
“For my father and mother have forsaken me, but the Lord will take me in.” –Psalm 27:10
Sarah has found joy in Jesus and it is evident in her face, in her words, and in her life. Isn’t that what life-changing faith in Jesus is supposed to look like? Let the unyielding faith of this seventeen year old spur you on today as you live for Jesus. Let nothing prevent you from shining as bright as Sarah.