I am sure that many of you have seen, or at least have heard of, the recent box office hits, The Hunger Games (2012) and the Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013). If you are unfamiliar with these films, they are about a strong girl, named Katniss Everdeen, who, through her trials and hardships, raises a nation to fight against a tyrannical government that pushes for the subjugation and slow annihilation of its citizens—it’s the plotline of too many of the nations of the last century and is increasingly coloring our own story in the West.
In the beginning of the second movie, Katniss comes home to find President Snow, leader of the quasi-post-apocalyptic nation moving toward another revolution by its citizenry, waiting for her. Long story short, more than a few threats were given her, and in closing President Snow says, “If a girl from District 12...can defy the Capitol...what is to prevent an uprising that can lead to revolution, and then in a fraction of time, the whole system collapses.”
Katniss replies with her character candor, “That must be a fragile system, if it can be brought down by just a few berries.”
“Yes, it is indeed,” is President Snow’s last word on the matter.
Even though this is a fictional conversation in a fictional movie, there is more truth at the heart of President Snow’s fear than most would admit. Both our Reformational Philosophy, world history, and our confessional, historical Calvinism teaches us: Any form of tyrannical government is only as strong as its citizens are weak.
Brave Katniss’ and bullying President Snow’s conversation remarkably reflects the reality of current events going on in Sudan. The Islamic government’s fear of losing its religious death-grip on its citizens is so strong, rightfully phobic, that they are providing the global audience an epic presentation that moves the singular courage of the character and conviction of a Katniss Everdeen from fiction to fact, from the box office to the nightly news. Enter Meriam Ibrahim.
The London Guardian newspaper reports that Meriam Yahya Ibrahim was arrested, after a Muslim relative claimed that her marriage to U.S. citizen Daniel Wani was invalid, thus adulterous, on the ridiculous grounds that Wani is a Christian. This only sheds more light on her situation in front of the court. She is a Christian. She has refused to renounce her faith and has turned her back to her Muslim heritage. Meriam told the Islamic court during her trial that her father was a Sudanese Muslim, but also that he abandoned his family when Meriam was a mere 6 years old. She was subsequently was raised and nurtured in her Christian faith by her Ethiopian Orthodox mother.
As a result of our dear sister Meriams steadfast commitment the Christ and unflinching faith, she has been sentenced to hang for her refusal to renounce the faith, but not before she receives 100 lashes for the “adulterous” relationship with her husband. She has been in shackles, chained to the floor, along with her 20 month old son, who has been held captive with her and is an American citizen, for three months. Also, she was pregnant with her second child, when she was arrested in February of this year.
According to Life News, Meriam had a heart-wrenching conversation with her husband during a rare prison visit. She told Daniel: “If they want to execute me, then they should go ahead and do it, because I’m not going to change my faith.” “I refuse to change. I am not giving up Christianity just so that I can live. I know I could stay alive by becoming a Muslim, and I would be able to look after our family, but I need to be true to myself.”
For three months she has been shackled in a Sudanese prison on death row, as though she is a huge threat to the Islamic government—and she is! In a turn of events, Meriam had her second child this week, May 27, 2014, while shackled in prison. Early reports claimed that she was to be executed after giving birth; however, now, as The Guardian reports, she has been given a two year stay of execution to wean her beautiful baby girl.
Let us pray this gives the organizations, governments, and individuals that are working on her release enough time to ensure it. May God stretch out his mighty right arm and deliver Meriam, his daughter, our sister; destroy his enemies and hers, and bring release and jubilee to all our faith-family in Sudan. And let us understand that living before our very eyes—whether Meriam lives or dies—is one “of whom the world was not worthy” (Heb. 11:38).