At the end of last year, a missionary and singer called Helen Berhane came to Brazil for a series of events where she would share her life story and testimony. I have never heard of her before, but I am sure I will never forget about her.
She came to Brazil through Portas Abertas, a local representative of Open Doors, a christian organization that serves persecuted christians worldwide.
I wasn’t able to attend any of the events, but I was able to watch an interview that she gave at a TV show. It was brief, but when I heard her saying that she was imprisoned for almost three years in a container (like those shipping containers) and was submitted to harsh beatings and torture for refusing to deny her christian faith, I had to look for more information about her. I wanted to know her story.
So I found about the biographical book that she had written entitled “Song of the Nightingale“, and luckily it was available for Kindle, so I bought it and started reading it.
I couldn’t put it down…
As someone who lives in a country where we enjoy religious freedom, the worst thing I’ve ever faced were silly jokes about my faith. So as I read Helen’s story, I could hardly believe it.
She was in fact imprisoned for singing and preaching the gospel in Eritrea (her home country), and was tortured and kept in prison because she refused to stop doing it.
It seemed that I was reading something from the first or second century, when the Church was persecuted and the punishments to the christians were cruel and meaningless.
There was an episode when she got a severe beating, and right after that she was writing to her “flock” (other prisoners to whom she preached through smuggled pieces of paper). She wouldn’t even thought of giving it up!
It became so obvious how I took my religious freedom for granted all this time. I mean, I have heard about christian persecution and I have prayed about people who were persecuted around the world, but seeing Helen in that TV show and reading her book made it all feel real, too real.
What most touched me about her story was her confidence that God was in control. Although she was living, as she said, in a “man-made hell”, she was certain that everything happened according to God’s will and that He was taking care of her. What a great testimony!
Most of my readers live also in countries where they enjoy religious freedom, so I believe that all of you can benefit from Helen’s story.
If you want to know more about Helen, check this interview that she gave at Open House in Britain:
I also encourage you to check the web sites of the organizations Open Doors (if you live in Brazil, check Portas Abertas), Christian Solidarity Worldwide and Christian Freedom International. These organizations are sometimes the only voices that the persecuted christians have to reach us. Check them out periodically and pray for the persecuted christian out there and for their countries.
Question for you: have you ever suffered persecution because of your faith? Have you ever met someone who did?