Posted by: atxanna | July 14, 2008

WAHIDAH*– A Matchless Ministry to the Handicapped

Physically handicapped child with her mother
Physically handicapped child with her mother

Wahidah,* in Arabic, means “unique, matchless” and I could not have chosen a better name to describe this woman and God’s story in her life.  Wahidah is an unsuspecting hero of the faith because her demeanor is so gentle, shy, compassionate, and sweet.  But her story sure grabbed my attention and I share it here in hopes that you will join me in praying for her perseverance in serving the Lord in this amazing way.

 
 

 

 

In 2007, Wahidah opened a daycare facility for mentally/physically handicapped children in a North African City, the clients of which are mostly Muslim.  The clients that she serves range in age from 2 to 22, all with various forms of disabilities—from downs, to autism, from CP to mental retardation, and many more.  Her heart in opening this facility is two-fold: 1) she is madly, passionately, and yet tenderly dedicated to caring for handicapped children, and 2) she dreams that this place will not only be an outlet to share the love and truth of Jesus with the children who are in their care, but also their parents.  It is a place where her and her staff can build relationships with the non-Christians in their town.

Wahidah’s vision for this center was birthed after the loss of her own child to down syndrome several years ago.  Because of the life experience God has given their family, her heart for children with disabilities runs deep.  For her, it is personal. 

Child in occupational therapy

Child in occupational therapy

 

 

While giving me a tour of the facility in March, Wahidah shared with me that, in her country, families who bear children with these kinds of handicaps are usually not educated about the illnesses.  They may not understand the diagnosis of their child and they are often uninformed about how to treat or care for their children.  For many families, it is a cause of great stress in the marriage because the spouses blame each other for the child’s handicaps.  Often times, children with special needs are maltreated, left at home alone, thrown out in the streets, or abused.  They rarely get attention or love and it is also not uncommon for the child to be hidden away because they bring shame upon the family.

When Wahidah began to recruit clients for her new facility, she went and made outreach calls to the families in poor areas.  She visited families door to door and met each child personally.  She cares for each child with an overflowing wealth of love from Christ.  And in the few months the children have been coming to the nursery, she has seen them transform from introverted, frustrated, misbehaving kids to happy, caring, smiling children.  The center doesn’t offer just simple child monitoring.  They use their days to educate, provide physical and occupational therapy, and basic training in life and trade skills.

Many of her client’s parents do not understand why she wants to help these children.  To them, they are a nuisance and embarrassment.  But to her, they are a part of her own family and they are God’s special children.  And each time a family asks her why—she has a chance to share Jesus’ love with those who do not know him.  I have had the chance to meet these precious children in person and can testify that their lives are truly being impacted by the nurture and care of my dear friend. 

Although we may praise God for her efforts, this endeavor has not been easy.  Even in the one and a half years since it’s been open—and without the nursery even being an openly Christian business—Wahidah has been brought in by the authorities and questioned many times, including the day before I met her and three more times in the last 3 months.  Some of the parents have removed their kids from her care when they learn she is a Christian.  And more recently she was forced to relocate the facility because those who shared tenancy in the building didn’t want a business near their’s that catered to this “shameful” population.  (Does your heart break like mine at that?!)  The project is obviously not without its difficult moments, but her heart is determined to persevere. 

Will you join me in praying for the staff’s strength, both physically and spiritually to continue to bring hope and love and joy to these special little ones.  And pray with me that the facility remains open (despite threats and persecution) and that Christ’s love continues to be shown both on the children and their families.

*Wahidah’s name has been changed to protect her identity.  I chose this name to represent her because it is the female Arabic name for “matchless, unique.”  Also, the photos accompanying this story are NOT of children or staff related to this specific ministry, they are just sample photos to illustrate similar situations.

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Responses

  1. Thanks for sharing 🙂
    Praise God for Wahidah!


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