“It’s not everybody who gets to be called a martyr’s wife,” Pauline Ayyad told ICC on a solemn afternoon after much reflection. “That’s a great honor.”
Pauline’s husband, Rami worked for the Palestinian Bible Society and ran a Christian bookshop in Gaza. While Rami was locking up his shop after a normal day of work one afternoon in October 2007, a vehicle pulled alongside him, and several men forced him in the backseat. Rami, remaining calm and trusting in the Lord, was allowed to call his wife. “I’m going with some young men somewhere, but I’ll be home soon,” he tried to reassure her. That was the last time Pauline would hear her husband’s voice.
Hours later, Rami’s body was found. He had been brutally tortured and shot twice, a bullet in the chest, and one in the head. “We don’t know the scenarios that took place with him or what they had done to him, but we believe there was an attempt to force him into something that he didn’t want to be, maybe into the religion of Islam,” the head of the Palestinian Bible Society told ICC. “He’s a martyr for Christ.”
I was moved deeply after contemplating Pauline’s words that it’s a ‘great honor’ to be the wife of a martyr. That statement did not come easy, but carried great wisdom and could only be said after Pauline had fully come to grips with her husband’s murder by forgiving his persecutors and surrendering the burden of his death completely to Christ. Her loss great and her suffering severe, Pauline was forced to embrace a cross unfamiliar to those of us who have never experienced a close family member paying the ultimate price for their faith – martyrdom.
The Road to Forgiveness
“I was so broken after the death of my husband, and I hated the people who did it,” Pauline said. “Why did this happen to Rami? Why would God allow it?” Pauline began working at the only job she was able to receive employment. It was part-time and paid little, but provided health care for her family. Still, Pauline was not able to earn enough to care for her children. Bitterness consumed her, and she felt lonely, lost and helpless.
But slowly Pauline became attentive to God’s purpose and realized that there was nothing she could have done, but that her husband’s death had been God’s plan all along. “God wanted Rami home,” she said. “He didn’t want anybody to interfere. God wanted Rami to be with Him that day and called him home. That was the bottom line. It was then that the Lord poured over me forgiveness for those who killed Rami and those who I used to blame.”
“After that, I totally became a new person, a positive person full of forgiveness. It was a gradual process where Jesus had to touch my heart and heal me. Now, even in my weak moments, the Lord closes the door and removes my doubts. ‘That’s it,’ He says. ‘You are forgiven and you have forgiven.’ After that, I started thanking the Lord for the cross that he gave me. I started feeling that His yoke is light, and God gave me the strength to carry it.”
“It was like a divine healing,” said a close friend of Pauline’s. “The Lord touched her heart so she was able to forgive, and after that, to live. Her life turned 180 degrees after she released those people.”
Rebuilding Her Life
Having been “tested in the furnace of affliction,” (Isaiah 48:10) Pauline victoriously overcame great loss and hardships by obeying and trusting in Christ. She now finds joy and purpose by fulfilling God’s plan for her husband’s life as a living testimony of God building His kingdom through the blood of the martyrs. Unlike her husband, Pauline realized that her greatest impact in this life would not have come as a martyr, but by exemplifying Christ as a martyr’s wife.
Please remember Pauline and her children in prayer. Pauline still tackles the challenges of being a single mother in a Muslim male dominated society. Three years after her husband’s murder, Pauline has been unable to find employment that fully supports her family. ICC is developing a small business that will provide a sustainable livelihood for Pauline and her family. Please consider partnering with us by donating* to this business and blessing this great woman of faith.
*please include Pauline’s name in the donation form note.