Sahar peeked through the veil of her heavy burqa desperately trying to see over the wall that surrounded the Catholic Church. School was in session and the boys and girls were outside busy playing a variety of games, some of which were soccer, hopscotch and jump rope. She had often stopped along this section of wall and would watch the children playing in the compound. However, she knew that if someone discovered her they would drag her off to the village cleric where she would be punished severely.
Sahar was turning thirteen today and had been secretly reading a bible she had found along this very same wall. Oh how she loved all the stories she read on those pages about Noah, Father Abraham and the ancient city Ur of the Chaldeans. Many times she would imagine that she was a Mesopotamian Queen on her way to Jerusalem to visit King Solomon. In her mind , she watched as her entourage went on for miles with tall camels carrying loads of jars full of wine, dates and assorted spices as gifts for the king.
“Sahar! What are you doing? Get down off that wall immediately before someone sees you.” shouted her brother Omar, who was on his way to the mosque for morning prayers.
Sahar’s heart raced as she lost her grip and slid down the steep face of the concrete wall that had been constructed with fragments of broken glass embedded into the surface. Although her heavy burqa was ripped in several places, she herself was unscathed. Her father had warned her not to climb the wall of the church and reminded her that Allah was a jealous god and demanded her full devotion. As she went to the well for water she wondered if her brother would tell her father what he had seen her doing.
While she waited at the well for the shepherds to water their sheep, Sahar secretly pulled out her pocket sized bible. As she leaned against the trunk of a date palm she was able to conceal the book from the view of the others who had gathered at the well. Time seemed to stand still for the moment as Sahar turned to the book of Ruth and began reading. She loved this time of the morning and even waiting for her turn at the well seemed to fly by as the cool morning air circulated through her veil.
Sahar reads through the pages as the poverty stricken widow Naomi realizes she must return to her homeland in order to survive. Orpah, one of her two daughter-in-laws decides to remain in Moab, but Ruth decides differently saying "Entreat me not to leave you, Or to turn back from following after you; For wherever you go, I will go; And wherever you lodge, I will lodge; Your people shall be my people, And your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, And there will I be buried. The Lord do so to me, and more also, If anything but death parts you and me."
Sahar loved how devoted Ruth was to her mother-in-law Naomi and how she truly and wholly wanted to follow the One True and Living God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. As she continued to read something was happening inside of her, it was a warm feeling in her heart and it made the hair on her arms stand to attention. All her life Sahar was forced to worship Allah and never felt a connection to him like the way that she felt when she thought about the God of Naomi.
On her way home, with the jar of water on her head, Sahar asked God to reveal the truth to her about who He was. The cool morning breezes had left and were now being replaced by strong east winds that began blowing sand. The sun too was hot and it made Sahar stop at an oasis that was midway to her home. Once again she called upon God for help “Oh, Great God of Naomi please reveal yourself to me as I want to know You! Please help me to walk the same path as Ruth and become my God!” the young teenager penitently prayed as sand fell through the palm branches.
It was too hot to walk the rest of the way home and the blowing sand did not relent so Sahar pulled back out her pocket bible and read as the pages turned to John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”