Under the awning of the truck on a cold, wintry day at Tompkins Square Park, I huddled with a woman we serve as the snow poured down around us. The weather seemed to echo the hurt she was feeling. With sorrow she explained how she had been quite sick recently yet her husband forced her out of bed to cook for their family. She went on to describe how he often forces her to have sex, cook, and clean, no matter how she is feeling. He never thanks or encourages her for doing any of these things, but instead criticizes any of her efforts that fall below his standards. Sometimes when she desires his affection, she’ll sit down beside him and tell him how much she loves him. He ignores her when she does so.
She is a Muslim who has expressed occasional interest in Jesus, yet she knows her husband would kill her if she ever converts. She is not just in a loveless marriage; she comes from a culture that considers women to be second class citizens. She is one of many who live in oppressive home situations that feel more like a prison than a family. At one point she looked at me and said, “I just wish he would hug me and tell me he loves me sometimes. I just want to feel appreciated sometimes.” In that moment, God whispered to my heart, saying, “Tell her how much you and I love and appreciate her.” I wrapped my arms around her, looked into her eyes, and told her just that. In that moment I saw the anger and hurt begin to fade as she smiled and received the affection of heaven, something she has never truly known. We see her nearly every week at Tompkins Square Park, and I have not heard her speak such clear English as she did that day. I believe God enabled her to share her heart with me so He could share His heart with her. It is encouraging to know that His love never fails. It will not fail her. Please pray with us for her entire family to receive revelation of that!