I have been surveying readers to find out what they would like more of on this blog. This is for all those who like book reviews and for those who want to hear more spiritual thoughts relevant to travel, justice, etc. It also falls under “other people’s ministries with children at risk” because, although she is fictional, Jeanette Windle’s character, Amy, in Freedom's Stand works with women who have been imprisoned in Afghanistan and their children. (That is, children who have been growing up in prison with their mothers. You can’t get more at-risk than that.) Some of the “women” are hardly more than children themselves—children running away from forced marriages to older men who abused them.
A woman in Afghanistan must be under the care of a male “wali” (guardian). That wali may be her father, her husband, her elder brother or any man under whose protection she lives. And believe me, she needs protection. Without a male protector she is fair game for any man who wants to pinch her bottom, touch her breast or even rape her. A missionary to Pakistan warned me when we visited, to walk in front of my husband in the market. Otherwise, even though we were foreigners and modestly dressed in local attire (loose pantaloons, headscarf and a tunic that reached below my bottom on a hot day), someone (read that “some @!% misguided male”) was likely to come up behind and pinch me since I wasn’t wearing full Muslim covering. For some reason Pakistani and Afghan men think it is the woman’s responsibility to keep from arousing the “healthy virility” that Allah gave men. They take no responsibility for their own self-control.
This wali has absolute power over the woman to work her, starve her, sell her to the highest bidder, excuse me, I mean, arrange her marriage for a bride price. He even has the power of life and death over her. Witness accounts of "honor killings" all too common in that part of the world. (I don’t have any statistics, but as far as I am concerned, one is “too common”.)
Theoretically, her protector should be protecting, shouldn’t he? After all, this is his daughter/sister/wife we are talking about. But since all his life he has been taught that a woman is his inferior, inclined to promiscuity and incapable of making her own decisions, a lack of abuse is about the best that can be expected in many cases. The respect for the opposite sex that comes from recognizing that every human being is made in the image of God and loved by Him is beyond comprehension to someone with this mindset. Nor can he (or even she!) grasp the Christian ideal of marriage as the companionship of two people who complement one another’s gifts as they leave, cleave and become one flesh.
Enough ranting. I just finished Jeannette Windle's Freedom’s Stand. It is powerful! I reviewed her Veiled Freedom last year. I loved its multiple points of view, each logical within its own system. The ending left me longing to know what would become of the would-be suicide bomber. In Freedom’s Stand we follow him as he takes his healing skills and infant faith into the hills of Afghanistan. Jeannette portrays followers of Isa Masih (Jesus Christ) who give me fresh insights into the gospel and what it means in the lives of people in a culture a million miles from my own. Guns can’t change men’s hearts. Democracy can’t change hearts. Even American policy is powerless when it comes to character transformation. Only the Holy Spirit can do that.
Romans 10:14: How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?
Sometimes inspirational fiction tries too hard and doesn’t make it compared to its secular counterpart, but Jeannette has crafted a page-turning thriller that won’t let you down at the end. At the same time, she will make you angry. You may end up producing your own rant against a worldview that demeans women and against American policies that rate support for the West over freedom and justice for all.
You can read this book without reading the first, but you will enjoy it more if you start with Veiled Freedom. You definitely want both books in your church library.
LeAnne Hardy has lived in six countries on four continents. Her books come out of her cross-cultural experiences and her passion to use story to convey spiritual truths in a form that will permeate lives.
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