The Black Heart of a Blacksmith

(Names changed for safety.)

A man walking towards a cross with sunbeams

 

Her hands are shaking and her voice is feeble and cracks a few times as she tells us how her husband’s fists crack her open.

Amira is a very small woman. Yet she has an internal ferociousness that is not accurately displayed in her small frame. Still, she cowers around him.

It was not always this way. When they lived in Syria, their lives were simple but happy. They had friends and family and a decen

t paycheck. Their needs were met and they were hopeful for the future for themselves and their two young daughters.

Then the war happened.

This war is unlike any other in our present day.

The civil war in Syria has grown increasingly complex with multiple “sides” that have several factions. In some ways, it is a faceless war – often difficult to identify the real “enemy” and never knowing the names of those who are suffering at their hands. As Amira tells her story, the war is no longer faceless. I see real tears roll down the face of a real woman whose life has been forever changed by this war, but not just in ways you might think.

Amira and her family fled Syria and live in Lebanon as refugees. She and her family are trying to make their way in a new cou

ntry that is not their own even as they watch their old country slowly being destroyed.

Amira is from a Muslim background. Being Muslim and Syrian have always been integral to her identity.

On one of her loneliest days in this new place, Amira tells us she met a Christian who invited her to attend a church. She was desperate for her and the kids to be part of a community. She started attending and found much more than casual friendships. She met Jesus and began to follow Him! Her life was suddenly filled with purpose and joy. She learned about how Jesus is much more than a prophet, how He is the God who loves us and promises to never leave us.

She couldn’t wait to tell her husband about this new life she had found! But he was less than pleased. As a proud, Muslim man, her husband, Munther, forbid her to go to the church again.

One night, when her husband came home from work, she begged him to let her and their girls attend church the next day. He refused and wanted to make it clear he was not going to have this conversation again. So he hit her…hard.

Munther is a blacksmith. He works 12 hours a day, six days a week with his hands, burning and shaping and pounding steel. And he raised those hands against his wife to send a powerful message.

With tears rolling down her face, Amira looked at Munther and said, “Even if you leave me, I will never leave Jesus.” He hit her again.

As Amira tells this part of her story, I can see the deep pain in her eyes. But there’s a joy that persists.

She smiles and says, “My blacksmith husband has a black heart…but I used to have one, too. Jesus changed me, gave me a new heart, and I believe He can change my husband.”

Amira finishes her story, and I have a chance to talk with her. I tell her that our team is planning to visit people from the church and others who have shown interest.

 

Amira tells me her blacksmith husband, Munther, is off today and resting at home. She invites us to her house to meet him. I accept but then my heart starts racing. Racing with fear and fury, hatred and sadness.

Even as we’re walking up the steps to their apartment, I’m struggling to pray for this man, much less for our team and how to interact. I simply mutter, “Jesus, help me see him how You see him.”

Their apartment is very nice. Many refugees live in difficult situations but theirs is the nicest one we’ll visit. Munther is very gra

cious and hospitable, proudly showing us the custom metal bars he made for their windows. They don’t look anything like what you might think. Their design is beautiful and 100% hand-fashioned.

The men sit on the cou

ches with Munther and Amira sits in the corner with their daughters.

I have no idea what to do, so I just keep praying, “Jesus, soften my heart. Help me see him how You see him.”

As we’re making small talk, even a few jokes, their youngest daughter rises from the corner and runs over to her father. He smiles warmly as he scoops her up and puts her in his lap. We continue talking, even as she’s playfully pulling on his beard and he’s tickling her. They’re doing Daddy-daughter stuff. He’s soft with her, even tender.

God answers my prayer. I now see Munther as a man just like me and God is faithful to remind me how much I still need Him…how far away all of us are apart from Jesus.

This story does not end with Munther trusting in Jesus…yet.

But God is showing me what He is doing…using a war with seemingly no end in sight to displace a family to bring them to a n

ew country to put them in the paths of Christians, and one by one, to bring them to Himself. I am reminded that our God is able.

We return to the church and I thank Amira for her courage, for allowing us into her home. She is so proud we came. I share with he

r my prayer for her husband…that when we return next year, Munther will be a Jesus-follower, and that h

e can serve as our translator when we do the next round of house visits.

Would you join me in that prayer? If God can save you, He can save Munther, and He can use him to save many more people. Though they no longer have a home country, Munther and Amira and their daughters can have a home forever with Jesus.

“Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” – 1 Peter 2:10