Names changed for security purposes.
In East Africa, African and Arab intermarriage is often discouraged. So when an African woman named Neema married Mussa, a man from an Arab clan, their families strongly disapproved. When the couple began trying to build a family, their struggles increased even more. Over the course of 10 years, Neema gave birth to three children with congenital birth defects. Tragically, each of these children only lived for a few weeks before passing away.
In the midst of their grief, Neema and Mussa dealt with heated opinions from each of their families. Mussa’s family perpetuated the idea that the death of the children happened because Neema was cursed. They urged Mussa to dissolve the marriage, believing this would bring an end to the curse. Neema’s family ascribed to the belief that Arab clans would offer human sacrifices in order to get wealthy. They believed the death of the three babies was caused by Mussa’s clan trying to gain riches. Caught in the middle of these verbal battles between their families, Mussa decided to part from his father and his father’s clan so he and Neema could begin a new, independent life.
For several years, Neema and Mussa continued to try, without success, to conceive. They consulted sheiks and traditional medicine practitioners, but to no avail.
During a visit to a local health center, Neema and Mussa met a Christian nurse named Ester. Ester’s testimony stopped them both in their tracks. For seven years, Ester and her husband were unable to conceive. After dozens of doctor’s appointments and tests, there was no medical explanation for why Ester could not get pregnant. So Ester and her husband turned to the Lord and prayed for his supernatural intervention in their situation.
“We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. May your unfailing love be with us, Lord, even as we put our hope in you.” -Psalm 33:20-22
Two years later, the miraculous happened. Ester conceived twins! Not long after, she was blessed with a second set of twins. Ester’s four children, born after almost a decade of waiting and seeking the Lord, opened Neema and Mussa’s heart to the gospel. They wanted to hear more about this miracle-worker named Jesus. Ester met with Neema and Mussa again, outside of the health center, to talk about her faith. She asked Neema a question that pierced her heart and lingered in her mind for many weeks later: “You can have all the children you want to have in this world, and all the joy of parenthood. But what would that mean if you and your children will perish forever?”
During this conversation, Neema and Mussa realized their need for a Savior was greater than their desire for a child. They joined a discipleship group where they were prayed for, learned how to pray for themselves, and taught how to pray for the needs of others. As their focus shifted from the despair of their situation to the hope of the gospel, Neema and Mussa found lasting joy in Christ. During this time of growing and deepening their faith, God blessed Neema with twins–a boy and a girl!
Today, Neema and Mussa use the testimony of God’s faithfulness in their lives to share the good news with others. It is their prayer that Mussa’s family and clan would come to know the truth of the gospel through their story.
“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion–to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.” -Isaiah 61:1-3
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Marlena is a mom, wife, and freelance writer in Texas. She has a desire to use her skills to glorify God and encourage others.