“Lord don’t let me fail. You are my portion.”
An unimposing woman exits the mud hut to greet us. Hiwot is a petite woman, modestly dressed. She wears a long skirt and uses one scarf to cover her shoulders, and another for her head. Hiwot kindly welcomes us into her home. She appears unconcerned with the onlookers that have followed us from the church and who now stand at the perimeter of her land, watching our every move.
In the shade of her new house, Hiwot starts sharing her story – the reason for our visit.
Hiwot did not grow up in a Christian home. Even as a child, she knew of the Protestant church and always wanted to attend a service, but then she got married and had children. Her own needs were put aside.
It was not an easy marriage. “I had many challenges,” she said. Hiwot’s husband drank and smoked all the time. He also didn’t work. Hiwot alone was responsible for providing for her children.
One day, her burdens had become intolerable and she decided to pray to God. “I was praying, ‘Lord, make my heart right with you. If I have much or nothing at all, it is worthless if I do not have you. Please connect my life with You.”
“The Lord Jesus came into my heart. I raised my hands and received Him. I said, ‘I deny the devil, and I believe in Jesus!’” In her own words, she repeated the blind man’s words from John 9: “I was blind and now I see!”
Sometime after her conversion, Hiwot’s husband became very ill. “I told him we should be together in the house of the Lord. And then on his deathbed, he received Jesus. I am so glad he accepted Jesus!”
Hiwot now attends services at the Protestant church, which is only a short walk from her house.
1Name has been changed for purposes of protection
Provision for the Family
Her husband’s passing, it seems, did not impact her too much at first, as he was never the provider for the family. Hiwot worked in other people’s Ensete (false banana) plantations to provide for her children. Harvesting the “false banana” is a physically demanding job. And then she fell ill. Sickness was an obstacle that felt impossible to overcome.
“I had to stop working. If I bent and worked, I had a lot of pain.” I begged God, ‘Please give us something to eat.’ I had nothing to give my children.”
God answered her prayer. Her church contacted Open Doors to explain her dilemma. We were able to assist Hiwot and the children with basic necessities such as clothes and food to eat.
Thankfully, Hiwot recovered and she is now able to work again. Her improved health has been a powerful testimony to her family, even though they have not committed their lives to Christ yet. “[Aside from my late husband], I am the only one who received Jesus. But my family is actually happy I converted, because I had illness and many problems. Now they do not give me trouble because of my faith.”
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of her community. They remain intent on making life
miserable for Hiwot and her children.
The Burning of Hiwot’s House
Last year, people from her village burned down her house while the whole family was inside. “One of my children woke me up in the early hours of the morning. He told me he saw someone with fire outside our house. I did not think much of it. Who would be outside the house at this time? So, we went back to sleep. Then the fire came into the house. We woke up and ran outside crying. The house burned to the ground.”
She suspects her conversion and baptism were the reason for the attack. “This is because of my
faith. It could be my neighbors. I had trouble before, and I still have trouble today with them
because of my faith.”
Despite the tragedy, Hiwot somehow finds the positive in her situation, “I am happy that my life and my children’s lives were saved. I praise the Lord about this.”
Still, the reality of being homeless and the responsibility of eight children to look after lay heavy on her shoulders. “My mind raced with anxious thoughts. I have no support… Will I find work? How will I buy steel and nails for a new house?
“For three days, I worried. But then I reminded myself that everything is in God’s hands. I prayed: In any place You wish, please build a house for me where I can settle with my children.”
God did not let her down. Open Doors, with help from her church, secured land and bought all the building materials, such as poles and nails as well as a corrugated roof to build a house. The church assisted with laborers and in less than three weeks, Hiwot and her children had a new house.
“I knelt down and prayed, ‘Lord, don’t let me fail. You are my portion.’ Not even my relatives helped me, only God did. He stands with the deprived and underprivileged ones. And here is my house. Blessed be the name of the Lord. I also thank all of you that have helped me. May your children be blessed. May they not have any challenges as I have experienced. Next to the Lord, I am calling a blessing to all of you.”
Open Doors is a ministry serving Persecuted Christians worldwide. We help provide Bibles, trainings, literacy programs, livelihood support, and advocacy to Christians suffering for their faith in Jesus. For over 65 years, Open Doors has been standing side by side with the Persecuted Church to “strengthen what remains and is at the point of death”. (Revelation 3:2) For more of our work and how you can join us, please visit www.opendoors.ph or our Facebook Page: Open Doors PH.