“But I don’t even know this man you want me to marry!” Miri cried to her father. “People who’ve met him tell me he is not a good man, that he is not emotionally stable.”
“He has money, influence and power in the government,” argued her father. “You will do this!”
Miri was born into a non-Christian family in Africa. Her father abused the family. He didn’t live by any solid moral code. When Miri was little more than a child, her dad made a dishonest business contract and was taken to court. As a result, he went to jail with a long prison term. For several years there seemed to be nothing he could do about it, but he was determined to gain his freedom at any price. Finally he conceived a cruel plan to free himself. He found a guard who agreed to set him free in exchange for his young daughter.
When Miri discovered her father’s plan, she felt betrayed and devastated. Even at her young age she realized that any man who would give a criminal illegal freedom in trade for a helpless girl could not be trusted. Her father clearly didn’t love her, and this man wouldn’t either.
Her assessment quickly proved accurate. She had been purchased. She could expect no respect or love from the man—and he did not give it. Instead he oppressed and abused her. He beat her often. Miri lived in constant fear. She couldn’t consider the relationship a marriage, but knew it for what it was—slavery.
How could she escape such horror? She saw herself as a powerless pawn in a violent game she hadn’t chosen to play. She could think of only one way out: death. In desperation she tried to kill herself but somehow failed. The attempt gained her no new love or sympathy from the man who controlled her life. Now she felt even more desperate, but she could see no escape.
Then she met Jacob. He treated her with kindness and seemed to care what happened to her. In fact, he seemed to be everything her husband should have been and was not.
“Let me help you,” Jacob begged. “I’ll take you away from here where they’ll never find us.”
Miri longed to be far away, but she hesitated to trust any man. She found she couldn’t say no, and she couldn’t say yes. When she looked up into his eyes, she wondered if he could possibly understand her quandary.
Days and weeks passed as she contemplated what to do. She was not in possession of her passport. Without it, she didn’t see how she could get far enough away to stay out of her master’s reach.
Meanwhile, she and Jacob continued to meet secretly. Inevitably, one day the man she had been forced to marry discovered them talking. He became extremely angry. After beating her horribly he told her, “If I catch you talking with that fellow again I’ll kill you both.”
Miri knew he meant it. She felt she now had no choice.
“Jacob will keep coming around, so it’s sure: I face death if I stay,” she said to herself. “Surely Jacob can’t treat me any worse than this man.”
She and Jacob fled. They went from country to country, crossing borders illegally, before seeking protection through a United Nations agency. Miri explained the abuse she had undergone, and the two were allowed to remain as refugees.
New life, new love
Samuel, a Gospel Outreach worker, met Miri and Jacob as they were leaving the United Nations refugee office. He gave some tracts to them and invited them to Bible studies. They accepted and studied regularly with Samuel. As they became more acquainted with Samuel, Miri told him about the troubles she had gone through. Samuel encouraged her and challenged her to trust in Jesus, the gentle One who cares for hurting people.
Miri continued studying God’s Word, and she began to experience healing through her friendship with Jesus—the one Man she can totally trust.
“Now I believe that Jesus loves me and that He will never leave me alone,” she testifies.
Miri believes God guided in bringing her to a place where she could learn more about Him. Her goal now is to search for truth and to honor Jesus in her life, the Jesus who took her into His arms and truly loves her.