Miriam grew up in a typical Muslim family who held fast to the Islamic traditions and its culture. When she was 16 years old, her stepfather arranged her marriage to a Saudi Arabian man, who paid 25,000 Egyptian pounds ($3,700.00) for her.
It was simply a business arrangement; she was to get married and provide her new husband with a child. He was already married, but his first wife could not conceive. Miriam did fall pregnant, and when her baby was born it was transferred immediately to her husband’s first wife. The couple left, taking Miriam’s baby with them to Saudi Arabia.
Left alone, Miriam returned to her family. While working in a department store, she met a young Christian man, who witnessed to her about Jesus Christ and how He suffered on the cross.
On 3 May 1997, when she was only 17, her stepfather came into her room and raped her in preparation to use her as a prostitute for income for the family. During the assault, her hand was badly injured and became paralysed. Miriam said that when these things happened, she called upon the God of the Christians to help her.
The most beautiful person I have ever seen
All of a sudden, the room was filled with a bright light and Miriam could see a man in the room. ‘He was the most beautiful person I have ever seen. He stretched out both of His hands towards me.’
When she saw holes in His hands, she realised that she was being shown how Jesus had suffered for us on the cross at Calvary.
One of her neighbours was also a Christian. The neighbour gave her a Bible and over the next two days she read Genesis and Exodus, but found them hard to understand.
Miriam spoke aloud, saying, ‘I’m sorry, God, but I don’t quite understand what I’ve read. But if You are really the Christ and You are the real God and You died for me, then I will believe in You. Can You help me understand what I am reading?’ Looking down, her Bible was open at the New Testament, so she began to read the Gospels. And as she read, she started to see who Jesus was and how God loved her just like He loved the world.
Four days later, in her own words, ‘I called upon the name of the Lord in prayer to say, ‘If You want me to be Your daughter, I don’t need my arm to be healed, I just want to see You again.”
Once again, the Lord appeared to her in a vision. She told Him, ‘I wish I could give You my sick hand.’ The Lord said, ‘In the name of the Father, the Son and Holy Spirit,’ and instantly she was able to lift both her arms to Him.
‘I confessed to Him that I could never take myself away from this forced ungodly behaviour,’ Miriam shared. ‘But Jesus said to me, ‘You will be My daughter!’ I told Him I didn’t deserve it, but He changed my life. I never expected someone could take me from this garbage of life and rescue me.’
A new life
Miriam began attending a Coptic Church secretly. She was hungry to know more about being a child of Christ. When her stepfather wanted to sell her into another Muslim marriage, she decided she must leave home urgently.
Miriam travelled by bus to Cairo and found a church where the bishop was kind and found her a home with a family. There, Miriam was baptised to proclaim her faith. Six days later, while she was out shopping, her eldest brother found her and forcibly took her back to their family home.
Inside, her family bound her arms above her head and interrogated her, asking why she had converted to Christianity. Miriam replied that she had found Jesus, Who is the Truth. They were enraged. Her stepfather began inflicting wounds with a sharp knife all over her body. He demanded that she recant and say that Allah is God. She boldly replied, ‘I can’t confess to someone I have never seen!’
As they continued to cut her, Miriam told them about Jesus. She felt His presence with her. They made her drink liquid used to kill flies, so Miriam prayed to the Lord to help her. Unable to stand seeing her tortured, that night her younger brother helped her escape. A Coptic priest took her to a hospital, where they gave her an emetic to induce vomiting to rid the poison from her body. Afterwards, an X-ray of her stomach showed that it was undamaged.
God had watched over her during this terrible ordeal.
Miriam is now living in our safe house and has grown in the Lord. Her testimony has been an inspiration to other Muslim-background believers who have come through the safe house. Recently, she has been diagnosed with cancer and has been undergoing chemotherapy. Despite the horrendous torture she has suffered at the hands of her family, she still loves them because they are blind to the truth of Christ. She believes her youngest brother accepted the Lord shortly before he died recently.
That women who have experienced abuse will know the peace of Christ and will forgive their attackers.
That even in suffering, Christian girls will be a shining witness to the Gospel.