Our whole family is exhausted this week. Over the weekend, we had the 5th annual Men of Armor Daddy-Daughter Dances. As if two dances in two days were not enough, we added another dance on Saturday at noon to accommodate men on the waiting list. In total, we had almost 1000 dads and daughters in attendance. As you can imagine, we’re all recovering slowly from the preparation and execution of these fun dances.
Being in full-time ministry is hard. Not only do we pull off some big events, but we are constantly helping men and families in need. As is typical of many days, my husband got an emergency text just this morning at 5 a.m. Over the years, we’ve learned that vocational ministry is not a 9 to 5 job – it’s a lifestyle of service to the Lord and others. You’re always on call.
And so after the dances are over, it has become a tradition for me to find a biography to read. I try to pick books that tell the story of persecuted Christians around the world. I have two purposes in mind. One is that reading is relaxing to me and it’s a small gift to myself. Second, reading about the struggles of persecuted believers puts my life into perspective. As emotionally and physically draining as ministry can be for my husband and me, we do not ever face bodily persecution in our line of work. The people that I read about do.
Last year, I downloaded the book, God’s Double Agent , by Bob Fu on my Kindle. This book tells the remarkable story of Bob’s conversion to Christianity in Communist China. You’ll be on the edge of your seat as you read his harrowing account of starting an illegal house church, of being imprisoned, and also tortured for his faith.
This year, I got a little bit of a head start on my reading. For Christmas, I bought my 14 year-old daughter the book, Hiding in the Light , by Rifqa Bary. Apparently, her story was all over the news in 2009 but I must have missed it. Having four young kids ( 8, 6, 4, and 2 at the time), I don’t think I watched must else other than Miss Pattycake and Veggie Tales. Anyway, this book is a barn-burner. I could not put it down once I started reading it.
Rifqa moved to the U.S. with her devout Muslim family at the age of 8. She became a believer in Jesus Christ at the age of 12. She hid her faith from her family for four years before realizing that she could not hide it any longer. At 16, she was found out and decided to run away from home because of the threats against her life from her family. Her story of courage is incredible for someone so young.
I would recommend this book to adults and teenagers. There are some struggles that Rifqa went through that may not be appropriate for anyone younger. But you could always read it and see what you think. This book gives us a window into the Muslim culture that will help us relate to our Muslim friends. It would also be a great book to read along with your teenager to promote conversations about what it truly means to sacrifice for our faith in Jesus.
All weekend at the dances, I kept telling myself to imitate Paul who was “poured out like a drink offering” for the sake of Christ (2 Timothy 4:6). My drink offering seems measly compared to the drink offering that Bob Fu and Rifqa Bary have to offer. Their stories have spurred me on to fight the good fight, finish the race, and keep the faith (2 Timothy 4:7). I pray that they do the same for you.