Each day this week Christian Today is sharing stories of persecuted Christian women who have leant on Christ and been strengthened in order to pull through the incredible hardships they have faced. Today we tell the story of Mariam, a young Christian woman in the Middle East who, despite incredible risk to herself, has shared Christian devotionals to encourage people during Covid-19:
When the coronavirus made its way into the Middle East fear and anxiety also took hold.
In an effort to bring hope Mariam*, a young Christian woman, launched a series of Bible studies for people to find encouragement in.
Now, her devotionals and messages of hope reach upwards of 3,000 people every day bringing them words of strength and comfort.
Mariam is one of the women which anti-persecution charity Open Doors UK & Ireland is honouring by celebrating the way they have faced persecution with courage.
"I saw a lot of people on social media with anxiety because of the coronavirus," said Mariam. "By sharing Bible verses and devotionals we want to give people hope."
Since Mariam started her devotional series more than 3,000 people have signed up to receive them, and her team have been in touch with at least 100 people to have in-depth conversations about their fears and how faith in God can be a beacon of hope.
Mariam hasn't shied away from difficult questions in the devotionals she sends out on a daily basis. Many of the themes are about different types of fear and how to deal with them. The devotionals have tackled the spread of Covid-19, fear of losing a loved one, fear of financial consequences and fear of isolation.
Every day subscribers receive an audio message that has Bible verses, a reflection based on those verses and a prayer. Occasionally, a question is included to help listeners apply the message to their lives.
"Someone told me that every day she had been waiting for this audio message to be sent to her," said Mariam. "I encouraged her not only to listen to the prayer, but also to actively pray on her own, to talk to God and read the Bible.
"This was a new experience for her, since she came from a Christian family that was not used to this."
Through social media, Mariam and her team are also actively offering to chat with other young people and have deeper conversations about whatever is troubling them.
She said: "It has been shocking to hear about the deep anxieties people deal with.
"Everyone reads the bad news about the coronavirus and the many deaths.
"Some people explain the Bible differently and believe the coronavirus is a punishment from God or the end of times. Another feared that he was too far off from God to be forgiven.
"We try to help people discover that God loves them and that it is never too late to start having a relationship with God.
"Yes, it is a big crisis and it is normal to be afraid. But we want to give people hope and take the step to have a relationship with God."
*Mariam's real name cannot be revealed for security reasons, neither can the country in which she lives.
As part of Open Doors' Rise with Courage week, celebrating Christian women who have come through persecution, the charity is hosting author, speaker and president of the Girl's Brigade Rachel Gardner in an Instagram Live event on Wednesday, August 19 at 1pm. Follow @opendoorsuk