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08/07/2022 Indonesia (International Christian Concern) – Ida* never imagined that living with her aunt would mean that she could no longer practice her faith freely like she used to.

As a student who migrated from Luwuk Banggai to Makassar to begin her college education, Ida’s widowed mother placed her under the care of her paternal aunt. Her aunt was once a Christian but converted to Islam after getting married to a radical Muslim. She even converted her own parents to become Muslims. Since living at her aunt’s house, Ida has always been urged to convert to Islam.

While she maintains a good relationship with her cousins, often, when she wants to go to church, her female cousins would ask her aunt to refrain her from going.

One day, Ida’s aunt offered to help cut her hair, which was long at the time. Her aunt said she would only chop a little bit off. As it turned out, her aunt had intentionally shaved off her head. Ida told ICC, “At first, I was surprised that a big chunk of my hair dropped to the floor, then my aunt pretended to be surprised and proposed to just make my head bald.”

Though surprised, Ida remained silent. Her aunt claimed that she cut too much of Ida’s hair by accident. A proposed solution followed, which was for Ida to wear a hijab to campus since she was too embarrassed to go out with a bald head. Ida had no choice but to accept.

After this episode, her aunt continued to encourage Ida to convert. She does not allow Ida to leave the house for Sunday worship. Ida could only attend the prayer meeting on campus on weekdays.

Knowing Ida’s situation, her spiritual mentor reached out to ICC to ask for help. ICC stepped in and provided a rented room with basic items that is two doors down from her mentor, so she no longer needs to live with her aunt but has a companion who lives nearby.

In April, Ida moved out from her aunt’s place, though she often returns to ease the transition. Ida’s mother had to tell her aunt that the reason for Ida’s move was to be closer to school in order not to upset her aunt, who Ida is afraid of.

When the ICC team visited Ida in May, she expressed gratitude as she felt happy and relieved with her new space. Growing up as a Christian, she never wants to change her faith. The fact that she had to wear a hijab to cover her bald head made her feel ashamed.

Living by herself, she now has the liberty to attend discipleship courses, prayer meetings, and worship at church whenever she wants. She hopes to become a discipleship leader in the future.

Please pray for Ida so she can continue to grow in faith and soon reunite with her mother, who she has not seen for over a year.

*Names changed for security reasons.

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