Rifqa Bary, the teenage girl who said she ran away from her Ohio home to Florida because she feared physical harm for converting from Islam to Christianity could soon be returning to her home state. Rifqa fled after her parents, Mohamed and Aysha Bary, learned that she was baptized into the Christian faith without their knowledge. The parents reported her missing on July 19. Police used cell phone and computer records tracked the girl to an Orlando-based Christian church. This month, a Florida judge said stated that he would send Rifqa back to Ohio, but set no date for her return.
In a television interview aired on the Florida station WFTV, Rifqa, said she expects to be killed if she is forced to return to Ohio.”If I had stayed in Ohio, I wouldn’t be alive,” she claimed. “In 150 generations in family, no one has known Jesus. I am the first — imagine the honor in killing me.”
Rifqa’a father Mohamed Bary, who emigrated with his family from Sri Lanka in 2000 responded in another interview that has no intentions of harming his daughter.
“I love my daughter and I want her to come back to the family,” he said, declining further comment.
This is a tough story. Where does parental authority begin and end? What is the right balance between religious freedom and parental choice? We’ve seen several examples of this question lately, with several well publicized child medical treatment/prayer treatment controversies. As a parent, and a supporter of societal support of the nuclear family I side with the girl’s parents. But as an individual believer in Jesus, firmly aware of the hostility Jesus-followers often encounter, my heart goes out this brave young woman.
From a distance, the most we can do is pray.
“God we pray for Rifqa Bary and her parents and extended family and friends. We can pray that you would give Rifqa increased courage and conviction to maintain her personal faith in the face of opposition. We pray too that you will bring a miraculous reconciliation between Rifqa and her parents and family. Open everyone’s mind and heart in this matter, show them the path to walk. Give Rifqa relationships with people who can help her follow Jesus without believing that she has to leave every element of her culture. Show her how to honor her parents and yet retain a full loyalty to Jesus. There is no simple human solution here. It will take a miracle, which is why we pray! In Jesus…”
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