Over the past few years we have asked our prayer supporters to pray for a woman we called ‘Sher’*. We were never able to give much detail since her situation was delicate.
She was a woman from a tribal group in Asia. Her mother died when she was born. Since her father was poor, he went to a mission hospital in the region and asked the Christian community to help him raise Sher. The community graciously gave the father a job as a security guard and helped to raise the child. Sher grew up, came to faith, and became a very capable surgical nurse. When she reached her 20s, her tribe wanted her to marry someone from the tribe, but the head doctor at the hospital – an expat who was beloved by the tribe – was able to protect the girl and keep this from happening.
Then tragedy struck. The doctor suddenly died. Eventually the demand came again that her father allow Sher’s marriage into a high-level family of a neighboring tribe. Tribal custom prevailed and Sher was married off. Due to the chaos in the tribal areas in this region, the family moved to the capital city. This is where we met Sher.
Karen*, an Interserve Partner, helped Sher get a job in a hospital in the city. Karen was also her emotional and spiritual support. Being married into a non-believing tribal household was not easy. Due to the negative influence of Sher’s mother-in-law, her husband was physically abusive. Then he began to pursue another woman. This was intolerable for Sher so she appealed to her tribe. The tribal council determined that the family had wronged Sher, so they demanded that the husband divorce her. Then the tribe did what we all feared. She wanted to remain single and serve as a nurse. They married her off to a local widower with four children, one being an infant.
This was crushing for Sher. She was moved in with her new husband’s extended family. She encountered more unkindness. Already exhausted, she became sick within a few weeks. When her condition became serious, the family finally released her for admission to the Christian hospital where she had grown up.
The trauma of the last five years was so great and her illness was apparently so advanced that Sher died just one week after reaching the hospital.
Sher was one of the most remarkable people of faith we have known. She sought to glorify the Lord in every circumstance. She endured much hostility and responded to mistreatment with graciousness. She served her tormentors. She reflected the best biblical character traits a person in that culture could demonstrate, glorifying the Lord. All of her colleagues in the city hospital where she had worked recognised that she was a woman of integrity and godly character. When her colleagues realised how much she was abused by her husband and how she quietly endured, refusing to complain or speak negatively of her husband or in-laws, they marvelled. They remarked that although Sher had the worst home life of all her closest colleagues, she was the one who cared for and cheered up others the most.
Sher is now at peace in glory. We are the ones who suffer the loss of her ever-gracious presence.
We request your prayers that the fragrance of Christ that was spread through Sher’s life will remain with each one who knew her and that this fragrance will draw them to her Lord and Saviour.
This story was shared with us by Interserve staff based in the USA.
*Names have been changed.