Abandoned Egyptian Woman Stands for Her Faith
By Claire Evans
08/08/2019 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – Family life is difficult in Egyptian villages. Small homes crowd around the desert country’s only water source, the Nile, eliminating privacy. Marriage is a transaction. For the women, marriage is a source of protection from a society that limits their opportunities. Children are born, but health services are inadequate in the villages. Many children suffer severe disabilities. In some villages, the problems are deepened by rampant drug use. Families are further destroyed.
Christians are not immune to these challenges; if anything, these problems are more obvious since opportunities for Christians are more limited in this officially Islamic nation. Villages in Upper Egypt provide many examples. Here, drug abuse runs rampant. Christian men find easier opportunities to escape the resulting complications if they convert to Islam. Their families are left in a hopeless situation if they refuse to convert.
International Christian Concern (ICC) recently traveled to one Upper Egyptian village, bringing food packages for women whose husbands converted to Islam and subsequently abandoned their families. It was here that we meet with Martha, a 47-year-old woman with six children, including a paraplegic son. She had been struggling to provide food for her family after her husband’s conversion, and was amazed that we would bring food to a stranger.
“The food package made us satisfied for around one month,” she said. “Many times, we didn’t use to eat meat or chicken. And we were eating the food in well-arranged and regulated method. The food package would make us satisfied for more than one month. Thanks, God!”
It was through the resulting relationship that Martha began to entrust her story with ICC’s team, sharing how difficult life had become due to her husband’s life choices.
He was working for a wedding and rental service, but had a terrible drug addiction. He could not afford both his family expenses and his drug addiction. So he approached the church and asked for assistance, proposing the idea of purchasing a tricycle. This small, three-wheeled motorbike would allow him to custom build his own taxi service. He promised that it would provide enough income for his family.
Instead, the tricycle signaled the family’s downfall.
Because of his drug use, he had already begun forming negative relationships with Muslims. The tricycle allowed him to expand these relationships and further feed his drug habit. They would convince him to abandon Christianity and convert to Islam. It was never clear if the conversion was his full choice or if it was an action taken under duress because of his drug addiction. What happened next, however, was his clear choice.
When Martha found that her husband left Christianity, she was stunned. “When I got the news of his conversion, I felt so embarrassed that I wished a hole would open in the ground and swallow me up.”
“When I got the news of his conversion, I felt so embarrassed that I wished a hole would open in the ground and swallow me up.”
Martha would not join her husband in converting to Islam, and he became physically abusive. He would often injure her, but the worst was when he attacked her with acid. The corrosive mineral created burns across her abdomen, causing intense pain. Martha needed hospital care, but her husband refused to take her.
For Martha, this pain was nothing compared to her marriage’s deterioration. The worst pain was when her husband married another woman, a Muslim, and abandoned his Christian family. “The most painful thing for me was that he left me for marrying another woman!”
His abandonment also meant that the family lost their source of income, and Martha was suddenly thrust into the role of primary breadwinner. She needed a job, but her options were limited. This was where ICC stepped in.
Together with Martha, a careful evaluation of her skills and nearby businesses was conducted. Martha requested assistance establishing a women’s undergarment shop, as all of the businesses in the area were tailored towards the needs of working men. Her oldest daughter had knowledge of this kind of business and could help her establish it.
ICC helped Martha transform her home into a shop. A one-month supply of inventory was purchased and prices were established. She would earn enough to provide for her family and resupply her store. It has been a remarkable success. Her store is frequently crowded by more people than the shop can fit.
Martha’s business strategy is simple. “I will make my daughter advertise for our project, they have many good relationships with many women, also my relatives will help us. I can tell the church servants to encourage the church women to buy from us,” she explained.
This business has effectively transformed Martha’s life. Before, she could barely afford to feed her family. But by the grace of God, through this shop, Martha can at last stand on her own two feet and provide for her family’s needs.
For interviews, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator: firstname.lastname@example.org