"When I see their faces, I'm learning how to live,
I'm learning how to love and I'm learning to forgive."
One day as I was browsing through the Voices of The Martyrs monthly publication, I was mesmerized by the pictures of the many suffering Christians. The expressions on their faces saddened my heart and I found myself weeping with conviction. There was one girl whose face had severely deformed by acid, one who was weeping over the execution of a family member, and one who was smiling with joy over receiving her first Bible.
Everyone of their faces had an incredible story to tell the world why it was worth following Jesus in a hostile environment.
As the result of this powerful experience I found myself composing a song that has changed my Christian life in so many ways.
Then just last week, I came across a picture on the internet, a face that literally broke my heart. I cannot shake this haunting image from my mind and I instantly knew I had to write about it.
Anyone who knows me and reads my blogs understands that I am not given to exploitation or sensationalism. Whenever I produce my videos or write my blogs, I strive to be Biblically balanced and try to avoid using sensationalism to prove a point.
It has been said that a picture is worth a thousand words. The picture that I discovered speaks volumes and a thousand words could never convey the emotions and convictions of my heart as I gazed at it.
I struggled with whether or not to post her picture. I don't want to be accused of exploitation and yet her face has an incredible story to tell, a very painful lesson for all of us Christians who live in the comfort zone of our churches.
There was no name attached to her picture. I don't think it's important. But when you gaze upon her, you will never forget her face.
She lives in Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam. Every year millions of Muslims flock to Mecca, the capital of Saudi Arabia to take part in their pilgrimage which is one of the five important pillars of Islam.
Saudi Arabia is not friendly to Christians and especially women. Women are the property of many powerful Muslim men. They live a sheltered life behind their veils being totally submissive to their husbands. In a country that is dominated by a medieval code of lifestyle and ethics, women are forbidden to drive cars. They have very little freedom.
When I first saw her picture, I cringed in horror! It was repulsive to look upon her face.
Her left eye had been bloodied and was sewn shut with sutures! Her lips were also swollen and her mouth had been sewn shut!
I turned away in shock! Composing myself, I forced myself to look again. The caption on the picture said that this brave young girl had publicly confessed Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior. Outraged, her master decided to teach her a painful lesson by sewing her eyes and mouth shut, so she could never again speak about her love for Jesus.
Her disfigured face spoke powerfully to my heart. I began to weep thinking about my comfortable and cozy Christian life. Then I remembered the words of Jesus to his disciples.
"If anyone of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me.
( Luke 9:23)
Jesus did not "sugar-coat" the path we would take. He warned us in advance that there was a cost for following him.
Paul said in Philippians 2 verse 16,
"For you have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ, but also the privilege of suffering for Him."
The subject of suffering is not a popular topic in Christian circles, especially those of us in the west who are not accustomed to having their eyes and mouths sewn shut because we believe in Jesus.
Most of us live a fairly comfortable, unchallenged Christian life. It is difficult for us to comprehend and understand the incredible suffering of Christians in the middle east.
Yet there is her picture, staring us in the face, reminding us of the painful cost of following Jesus in Saudi Arabia.
I hear of amazing stories of Muslims all over the world who are being visited by dreams and visions of Christ, persuading them to leave Islam and follow Him.
I wonder if this girl had one such vision?
Do you understand what her face is saying to us? I believe its saying that following Jesus may cost you your life but it's completely worth it! Knowing the love and forgiveness of Christ is the most precious gift in the world! There is absolutely nothing that can compare to it! There is nothing that compares to his unconditional love and grace!
Her face is screaming out to us and challenging us to be faithful in the darkest and severest of trials! Her face reminds you and me of the brutal marks and scars Jesus endured when he was scourged by the Roman soldiers before his grueling crucifixion!
Her face is saying you can sew my mouth shut but I can never be silent about Jesus.
You can beat me and scourge me and disfigure me but I won't deny my Lord!
Instead of hatred and retaliation, I have nothing but love and forgiveness for you. I don't have a religion, I have a love/relationship with the God of the universe and He promises never to leave or forsake me!
I cannot forget this beautiful girl's face. Her face bears the marks and scars of loving Jesus.
When I gaze upon her face its very difficult to accept the claim that Islam is a religion of peace.
What is her face saying to you?
I want to close this blog with a short excerpt from my song, "Faces."
Please keep this precious Christian girl in your thoughts and prayers!
"They put them in prison. They torture them. They tie them in chains.
But they won't deny Jesus no matter what the cost or the pain.
They pray and forgive them and even after all of their shame.
They want to be like Jesus. They want to be worthy of His name.
I see their faces and they taught me how to live.
in their eyes.
I see their faith and they're willing to forgive.
I feel so ashamed. It makes me break down and I wanna cry when I see their faces.