Today we hear the story of Aadab, a Taliban widow whose life was marked by violence and uncertainty. Through escape, she found a different meaning to the idea of “new life.”

Imagine being married to a Taliban fighter — a man of terrifying rapport and horrible violence, a global enemy. This was the dark reality for Aadab*, whose normal life was full of instability and governed by a harsh, twisted morality. Even essential things like family were overtaken. Through her husband, loyalty to the clan was enforced over loyalty to her own children.

One fateful day, after the violence came to her own doorstep, Aadab was left alone with two young children, no husband… and an opportunity to change her life.

On that day, she realized her family’s safety would only be found in escape.

Along with many others fleeing hostility in their home countries, she chose to risk her family’s life to the the danger of an inflatable raft journey captained by rough smugglers. Jammed in a tiny raft with many others seeking the same fate, Aadab fled her war-torn home with her children to seek a better life.

When Aadab arrived in Greece, the smugglers immediately demanded payment, though she had no money.

Yet God had a plan for her. In order to work off her debt, Aadab joined a group of women who met to learn how to make and sell bags. This happened to be led by an Muslim-background immigrant named Parisa, whose Christian ministry in Athens teaches not only crochet but the Bible.

Aadab was captivated with the woman who sat with them and talked about God like she knew Him. She was still, resolute and peaceful in a city deep in financial crisis and swarmed with desperate people.

Aadab had never seen such peace in the midst of deep waters. Her whole life had been heartbreak. She wondered what it would be like to feel hope, to feel safe. Spellbound by Parisa and by the glow of her hope, Aadab approached her one day.

“Tell me why you, in the middle of this destruction, feel no turmoil? Why is your heart light?”

Parisa then told her about Jesus and the adoption into His family that the Father offers because of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. Aadab had never felt like she was part of a family, but she wanted what Parisa clearly had: belonging. Parisa talked to Jesus not as a prophet, but as a Savior.

Aadab left Greece, continuing further into Europe. But the words “new life” came with different meaning now. She left the Middle East in pursuit of a new life in Europe. She found it in ways she had never expected.

By missionaries with GEM (Greater Europe Mission)

*Name changed for security reasons