The Challenges Shifa Faces Being Born a Girl with a Genetic Disability
Shifa is the spunkiest six-year-old you would ever meet, but she was born with two strikes against her. First, she was born a girl. This means she cannot carry on the family name and so she is not as valuable as a boy. Second, she was born with a genetic disorder which requires constant medical care. Because she has a disorder, she will most likely not fetch a good bride price when she is older or will have difficulty marrying at all. One of her parents is Hui, and the other is Salar. From the grandparents’ perspective, the situation is completely unacceptable. Even though they helped arrange the marriage initially, there is now no choice but divorce. Shifa’s paternal grandparents constantly pressure Shifa’s father to divorce her mother. They do not want the family to bear the shame of having a handicapped daughter, and they want their son to marry a new wife who can give them a grandson. Although Shifa’s father has not formalized the divorce, most of the time he lives with his parents, nearly a day’s drive away from his wife and daughter. Shifa misses her father, but is also angry at him.
Shifa’s mother works full time. On weekends or days when Shifa is not in elementary school, she stays at home by herself all day while her mother works. Sometimes a neighbor will check on her, but usually not. Shifa’s mother worries on these days, especially as her daughter’s unusual disorder could cause problems unexpectedly at any time. But what choice does she have? Shifa’s maternal grandparents are deceased, and her nearest family member is several hours away.
However, there is hope for Shifa and her family. God has brought a new and interesting family into her life. Though they are not a Muslim family, they seem to honor God. Though they are not Muslim, they do not allow pork products into their home. The first time Shifa stayed with them while her mother went to work, Shifa made herself very clear at the morning breakfast, “I am Salar, and I cannot eat your food.” But because the family continued to insist that they kept their house halal, after a few visits Shifa’s mother did not send a lunch and allowed Shifa to eat with the family. Shifa loves going to the family’s home, partially for the numerous toys, but also she senses that this family loves her.
We’ve shared stories about Jesus several times with Shifa’s mother and her father. Her father was quite uncomfortable, and her mother was polite, but reserved, in her response. Pray that the Gospel would penetrate this family as it goes forth in love. Pray that Shifa’s body would be healed and that her family would be healed. Pray that Shifa’s family would see that Jesus has set them free from all shame, and that Shifa is a precious treasure God has created and redeemed by His Son Jesus. Pray that as Shifa grows that she would know and accept that Jesus has redeemed her, and that despite her disorder she is loved both by God and by those who identify themselves as “followers of Jesus.” Pray that little Shifa would experience freedom and healing through the love of Jesus the Messiah and in turn spread the good news to many Salar women throughout her life.