“Only God can separate you now.”
Adel and Methu, married in 1989, lived in a small Christian village in Indonesia. They had two children – Christina and Christiano, who went by Anto. In 1999, their village was overrun by Muslim jihadists. The family, along with Adel’s and Methu’s mothers, was forced into the jungle, where they survived for a few days before the jihadists found them and killed both grandmothers and young Anto. Adel, Methu, and Christina were separated; none of them knew if either of the others had lived.
Adel endured interrogations and beatings, and she witnessed the mutilation and murder of a friend from her village. After several days, she was reunited with Christina – and then they were told that if they didn’t convert to Islam, they would be burned alive. They refused, and miraculously were spared. In the village where they were held captive alongside many other Christians, they were threatened with rape, and Christina, only a child, was brutally circumcised. Still, they refused to convert.
A few weeks later, Adel received word that Methu was alive. She managed to send him a list of the names of all the captive Christians she was with. A guard caught her; he wasn’t quick enough to intercept the list, but Adel was badly beaten.
When Methu received the list, he and a group of other Christian men, with the government on their side, went to the camp where Adel and Christina were being held to collect them. But it was not so simple; to be allowed to go with him, Adel would have to testify to the officials that she and Christina were being held against their will. The jihadists’ response: “If you tell them you don’t want to stay here, we will kill every one of the other Christians.”
For the first time in three months, Adel saw her husband face-to-face, and she was forced to tell him that she did not want to go with him.
Soon after this encounter, Adel’s captors forced her to marry a jihadist, claiming that her first marriage was invalid because Methu was a Christian. It was not long before she became pregnant.
During her pregnancy, Adel’s despair reached a new low, and she attempted to commit suicide with a kitchen knife. Christina caught her and stopped her, asking, “If you go away, what will happen to me?” Heartbroken, Adel prayed for forgiveness and for the ability to forgive.
The next morning, Adel wrote Methu a six-page letter, smudged with tears. It explained everything that had happened; it asked for his forgiveness; it expressed depths of love beyond words. Adel had no way of getting the letter to Methu. She put it in her pocket.
After baby Sarah was born, Christina told Adel that she had to find Methu. She begged her mother to leave with the baby, find Methu, and come back for her if she could. Adel didn’t have an answer.
Six months after writing her letter to Methu, Adel had opportunity to send it. She saw a child she had known in the village she’d lived in before the attack, and she asked her to relay the letter. She was in anguish; how would Methu respond? Could he forgive her? Could she blame him, if not? Would he take her back? Would he fight for her?
Methu’s response came in just a few days. Adel could see from the tattered state of his response that it had been written months before – long before Methu knew anything of Adel’s situation. It was a simple letter.
Adel, it said, you could have ten children by ten men, and you would still be my wife. Don’t you remember what the pastor told us at our wedding? Only God can separate us now.
Adel managed to escape and found Methu. Upon their reunion, seeing baby Sarah, he said, “So this is our new daughter?” He later returned to the camp and rescued Christina. Together, the family works with the government – under assumed names – to help rescue captive Christians.
Summarized from Hearts of Fire, released by the Voice of the Martyrs.