Granted, I haven’t really stayed up-to-date with all the news surrounding Rifqa Bary, who has seemingly been labeled the Christian Convert in more than a few articles, but in reading a few reports today of her apparent runaway with the help of church leadership, I couldn’t help but consider a few thoughts in regards to the situation.
1. One article states that Rifqa met the persons of Global Revolution Church through Facebook. This brings up the question; do we know what our children are doing on the internet, and who they may be conversing with online? What are they searching for or being presented with, and what types of topics or activities are they taking part in? Are they beneficial or harmful to the mental, physical, and spiritual wellbeing of our children? We can’t and won’t know, unless we take an active role in the personal lives of our sons and daughters. This is not limited to just the internet or cell phone contacts, but also such communication with others from family, church, school, and the neighborhood.
2. There is also the mentioning that Rifqa was apparently previously baptized without the knowledge or consent of her parents. As one who is a member and attends a local Baptist church, I believe we need to remember the biblical God-given leadership of the home as being to the father, as the legal given to the parents, and not try to usurp authority over such. I believe it is more important to try and reach the parents, rather than create animosity or separation between the parent and the child (especially under 18). Conversion takes place in the heart/spirit/soul of an individual and the Holy Spirit, through repentance of sin and faith in Christ; whereas baptism is merely the outward act of obedience of a good conscience toward that faith, and could be delayed if necessary.
3. It appears that the church leadership based their judgments of coercing or helping the girl to run away from home on the words of Rifqa herself, but I can’t help but wonder if possibly preconceived ideas from the mass resources on negative Islamic faith and practices from the news media and elsewhere played a part in their reasoning also. Again, are we not to at least attempt to contact the parents of a child of whom we have confiding in us, or try our best to investigate the claims to see if there is any merit to them? There have been plenty of stories children have told to only later find out they were somewhat misunderstanding the complete story and some outright lying, so should we not be hesitant in making judgments regarding children and their parents till we searched out the truth and find support for the claims we are given?
4. Rifqa’s father claims he loves her, and that she is free to practice any religions she wants. He also states that she has been labeling herself as a Christian since 14 years old, so why would Rifqa now believe or declare a fear of physical harm from her father? As a father, it would break my heart to hear my daughter claim she feared for her safety or life because of me. We are supposed to be the protectors of our children, with our homes a safe haven for them to run to when the whole world seems to be falling down around them. If our children feel they have been rejected by all, they should know we as their fathers (and mothers) are here for them. Even in poor judgment and at times they need correction, they should know it is done in love and for their benefit.
My points here have less to do specifically about the situation with Rifqa (for I am far lacking in information to judge all the factors of such a case), and more as a thinking process of what would/should we do if we were presented with a similar situation within our home or at our church. Parents – we should know our children! And church members – we need to know the parents of the children that may come to our church or contact us without their dad or mom. We are to be wise as serpents, and harmless as doves; therefore let us pray and act upon intelligent decisions.