Solutions June 2018 - Page 8

umbrella, and steadied her arm when she needed help. The rain let up by the time we reached her bus stop, and so I got out of the van to meet her. I learned her name was Aliyah, and she used crutches because she was a polio survivor. Despite her disfigured legs and twisted hips, she possessed the brightest smile. Aliyah told me how grateful she was for my message. “Ethiopians need to hear more about the God of the Bible,” she said enthusiastically. “And your children are adorable,” I said motioning to the three little ones, “Their daddy must be at home?” I naively asked. At once, her face darkened. “Oh, Mrs. Joni,” she said in a sobering tone, “You need to know that things are different for Christian women with disabilities in a country like ours. I am weak and defenseless” – she held up her crutch – “and Christian women like me are easy targets for abuse and rape. I do not know the fathers of these children,” she said with a hurt expression. “But they are mine and I raise them in the Lord.” That afternoon, Aliyah opened my eyes to 8 • Solutions a unique kind of persecution that involves religion and disability. Men of foreign faiths promulgate a heinous harassment against Christians who are weak and defenseless – and who, in their eyes, could be more defenseless than a woman paralyzed by polio? And so, persecution and intimidation take the form of rape and molestation. After all, she’s a Christian; she’s disabled; who would care? “ ...over 100 million Christians around the world are suffering under persecution.” “Aid to the Church in Need” recently published a report in which they described C h r i s t i a n i t y a s “ t h e w o r l d ’s m o s t oppressed faith community.” In that group there is an even more oppressed subset: women with disabilities. Whether they use white canes, wheelchairs, or walkers, they go about with large targets on their backs: “I am a Christian and defenseless – abuse me!” One way that Christian leaders in the west can help the persecuted church, is to think