Stories From the Field: Claudia

After her husband was late coming home from work one night, Claudia, a faithful member of our church, Breath of Life, received the call that so many Mexicans fear. It was Luis’ kidnappers, demanding a ransom. If she didn’t pay it, they would kill him. Claudia knew she would likely never see him again.

Although Claudia was a believer, Luis was nursing a 20-year grudge against God. Last year, two of their daughters accepted Christ and were baptized. Although Luis refused to attend their baptism, Claudia refused to give up on him.

After hanging up the phone with Luis after his abduction, Claudia prayed, “Lord, I don’t think I will ever see my husband again; please take care of him.” Claudia couldn’t go to the police, as that would ensure her husband’s death. Kidnapping victims in Mexico are warned by their abductors that if word gets out about their abduction, the entire family will be killed.

In desperation, Claudia took a risk and called Breath of Life’s assistant pastor. He prayed with her and informed Bob and Cheryl of the situation, and they joined in prayer. No one else in the congregation could be told.

One Sunday morning while Luis was still in captivity, Claudia testified to the congregation, “God is faithful!” By selling what she could and obtaining a loan, she was able to meet the required ransom. Luis was miraculously released.

A Joyful Reunion

Several days after Luis was reunited with his family, he was ready to open his heart to God. The couple approached Bob to tell him that Luis wanted to surrender to Christ.

Prior to his abduction, Luis told Bob that he had sensed the Lord speaking to him. He had prayed, “Lord, I need to return to you. Help me to straighten out my life.” Luis said that throughout the ordeal he never feared for his life; he was at peace, which further infuriated his captors. He knew God was answering his prayer.

Luis promised Claudia and Bob that he would listen to the Holy Spirit’s voice and begin attending church with his family. He has followed through on that commitment, with Claudia overjoyed yet still unable to tell anyone else what happened.

Claudia is not the first woman to deal with this type of horrific experience, and she won’t be the last. But we can come alongside women like her, sensitively providing support during the terrible hardships they endure.

 

Cheryl Fugate, International Worker
Guadalajara, Mexico

Stories from the Field – Santidougou Widows Center

by Esther Shaeffer,
International worker in Burkina Faso

Making a difference for widows’ children

Being the youngest of four children, there wasn’t much hope that Hawa would be able to continue in school. After her father died, Hawa and her mother worked hard selling food on the side of the road to support the family. But the older siblings would have the priority for school.

When Hawa was in 7th grade, her mother was able to pay the first down payment of her school fees. Hawa enrolled and began to attend classes with her friends. But when the next payment came due, her mother could not come up with the funds. The school threatened to kick Hawa out if the money wasn’t paid. Her mother went to the school and begged for more time. But the next month she was only able to pay a small percentage. The school explained that they could not keep Hawa enrolled if the money wasn’t paid. Hawa’s mom knew that her daughter was a good student and would find it hard to sit at home while her friends went to school each day. And so Hawa’s mom showed up at our house to ask if there was any way we could help to pay the rest of her daughter’s schooling.

We listened to her words and prayed together. The next day, I made an appointment to visit the school and talked with the director. He assured me that Hawa was an excellent student but that the distraction of the unpaid bill made it hard for her to concentrate in class. We agreed to pay the rest of her fees. We also told Hawa that if she worked hard and had passing grades each trimester, we would sponsor her for the next year.

That was five years ago. At the end of each school year, Hawa and her mother come and show me her passing grades. It is a happy moment for all of us. And then we set a date for when we will go and enroll her for the following year. But this was the last year for me to do this for Hawa is now in her last year of high school and will soon sit for her final exams. We are so proud of this young woman who has stayed committed to Christ and committed to her studies.

The opportunity to have a high school education will make a huge difference for Hawa, but also for her family. It was one burden that was taken off her mother’s shoulders. Hawa also will be able to secure a better job since she has a high school diploma. Staying in school and focusing on studies has kept Hawa from wandering into the temptations that are prevalent for young women in a large city. Succeeding in school increases Hawa’s self-image and allows her to be an example to others.