Hiding in the Light

By Rifqa Bary, 2015

True story about a young Muslim girl who converts to Christianity and has to run away from home for her life and safety. This book demonstrates many things but to me, it mainly shows how we Americans take for granted our religious freedom; we are free to worship who we want, when we want, where we want. She literally faced death from her earthly father and the Muslim leaders for becoming a Christian. She had to run for her life when she was 16 years old. Many of her friends and the officials in America had a hard time believing her; they thought she was just being an over-dramatic teenager. 

Originally from Sri Lanka, her strict Muslim family moves to America shortly after she is sexually abused at age 7 or 8 by an uncle in Sri Lanka. (The shame was hers, just as an injury leaving her blind in one eye caused when her brother threw an airplane at her is also her shame.) She encounters the One, True God – and the all-encompassing love of Jesus – through an American friend named Angela, who happens to be South Korean. The contrast between the love she feels from this God and His followers with the abuse and hatefulness of the followers of Islam, including her mother and older brother but especially her father, is astounding. She is sold-out for Jesus–heart, soul, and mind. She loves Him and His Word. When her family finds out she has converted to Christianity, they threaten to send her back to Sri Lanka where the penalty for conversion to Christianity is death. Her father is on his way home from a business trip. It is a race against the clock for her to figure out where to go before he gets home. She runs away with the help of the Holy Spirit through Christian friends, endures long drawn-out legal battles that take her through two states (Ohio, Florida, and back to Ohio), juvenile detention center, courtroom after courtroom, and many foster families. She eventually turns 18 and is free although she is still in hiding for her protection. She also gets a rare form of uterine cancer and is told she has a year to live, but is miraculously cured after surgery and several months of chemotherapy that she decides midway through to stop. Here are some quotes at the very beginning of the book:

To my precious baby brother, Mohamed Rajaa Bary. 

I can only imagine the unanswered questions that may plague you. Why did the big sister you adore leave you and never come home again? My hope is that this book is a long letter explaining why. 

Although you may never understand my answer, my prayer is that the words bound within these pages allow your heart to heal. My prayer is that one day you will forgive me for the pain I have caused you. I left not because I did not love you enough. I left because I encountered a God who was worthy of forsaking all . . . even the most prized little man in my life.

If only you could peer through my dreams and see how I ache to hold you in my arms like I did so many years ago . . .but this time I never let you go.

Author’s Note:

“In 2009-2010 my story broke in national and international media. As often happens, many of the news reports centered on speculation and untruths. This book fulfills my desire to give an accurate account of my personal experiences within my family and community. Please understand it is not my intention to malign Muslims or Islam.

Though the story contained in these pages is true, I have changed the names of many individuals for reasons of privacy and safety.”