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October 1, 2014
Column #1,727
“Cost of Discipleship Award”
By Mike McManus

If you had a chance to save your life by denying your faith, would you do so? Meriam Ibrahim faced that choice in Sudan several months ago. Raised as a Christian, in 2011 she married a Christian American named Daniel Wani.

“In the eyes of the Islamist government of Sudan, however, Meriam’s Christian profession of faith and her marriage to a non-Muslim man were, respectively, acts of apostasy and adultery. The sentence: 100 lashes and death by hanging.”

“For weeks Meriam was chained to the walls of a filthy prison, one child beside her and another stirring in her womb. To walk free, she need utter only a few simple words: `I am not a Christian.’ Against the natural yearnings of a young mother and the universal will to live, Meriam held fast. Had she recanted, who would not have sympathized with her plight?”

Those quoted words are from the Family Research Council’s first “Cost of Discipleship Award,” given to Meriam Ibrahim last Saturday night.

FRC helped mobilize bipartisan political support for her. One of the first to help was Rep. Frank Wolf, R-VA, who is retiring this year after 34 years in the House. He sponsored a bill creating a Religious Freedom Restoration Act, requiring the State Department to issue an annual report on religious freedom around the world.

One of the worst countries is Sudan, where President Omar al-Bashir invited Bin Laden to live from 1991-4, and is the first President of a country to be accused by the International Criminal Court of acts of genocide and crimes against humanity, such as killing at least 200,000 to 400,000 Christians. Rep. Wolf visited Khartoum, its capital, a number of times which he called “the heart of darkness.”

“Meriam was up against one of the most evil men in the world, President al-Bashire,” said Wolf, “where 2 million died, were tortured or enslaved. We saw villages burned and women had been raped. Yet in this heart of darkness, Meriam refused to renounce her faith. Would I do the same thing, if I were in her shoes? I don’t know.”

Reader, what would you have done?

Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) asked the Obama Administration, to go to bat for Meriam and for another case involving Pastor Saeed Abedini who is imprisoned in Iran (details below). Smith’s pleas were “met with indifference by the State Department” who said, “There is nothing we can do.”

One small organization, Hardwired Global, provided crucial help within Sudan. Its director, Tina Ramirez, told FRC supporters, “There is a huge missing link in advocacy for human rights. People in Sudan did not know what their rights are – that religious freedom was for everyone. Without it, human conscience cannot exist. My legal team worked with her five Muslim lawyers. We had to invest on the ground with those standing for Meriam.”

Finally, more help came from freshman Congressman Mark Meadows (R-NC) who actually called Sudan’s Ambassador to the U.S., saying, “The American people don’t understand how you could let a mom stay in prison, give birth in prison…It is hard to fathom.” That call to the Ambassador plus many more to follow - did lead to Meriam’s release.

FRC’s Award states: “Meriam Ibrahim proved herself willing to give the last full measure of devotion. In so doing, she provided an example of eternal witness in a world desperate for meaning. She embraced love and sacrifice, the essence of both her motherhood and her faith. Her incredible story reached out to and touched people in every nation. And, as so often happened in the lives of the first disciples, her resolution finally opened the prison gates and unloosed the shackles that could not bind her soul. The truth set her free.”

However, there are other Christian believers in jail. One prominently mentioned at the FRC gala for Meriam was Saeed Abedini, 34, a pastor, father and husband from Idaho who was in Iran to build an orphanage. Two years ago he was arrested on criminal charges for his Christian faith. He spent weeks in solitary and was denied medical treatment for infections resulting from beatings.

His wife, Nagmeh Abedini, told the FRC crowd, “I am proud for his standing up in the face of torture and beating…I need to get him home.” A petition to free him has been signed by 610,000 people. To learn more go to www.beheardproject.com.

And consider contributing to HardwiredGlobal.org to help free others. As Meriam told FRC, “I thank all the organizations working for freedom. There are many who still need help in Sudan and around the world.”
 

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