She’s only 12, but Destined for Great Things!

This article was first written for and published by SAT-7 UK and can be found here

There are just some people that have the “it” factor.  “It” being a characteristic that destines one for great things; sometimes as big as changing the world!  To me, 12-year old Mahala* is one of those people.  I first saw her confidently marching to the podium of my church in Beirut. With perfect poise, she gave a 10-minute sermon with testimony, Bible verse and practical application. This is a routine practice for her.  This girl is a world changer! I decided. I had to get to know her!

Mahala is from Syria, where only 29 percent of women even receive a high school education.  It is far more common for the young girls to be pulled out of school and married off at 12 or 13. No standing in front of a crowd and preaching for them!   Mahala’s poise, confidence, and faith in Jesus are even more remarkable considering her journey.

Mahala was only six when the war began. Her family had already tried to escape by leaving their city home for an obscure existence in the country. Here they lived in darkness, without electricity and any light for a whole year.  The war disrupted everything, including the potential of an education for Mahala, and eventually, her safety.

Opposition forces came calling one day, looking for Mahala’s older brother who had long left the country.  They grabbed Mahala and her siblings, roughed them up and held guns to their heads, threatening to kill them if they didn’t find men to serve with them!

Finally, when they realized there was no one left in the household to do so, they left, but only after ransacking the house, stealing valuables and traumatizing the family.

Enough was enough, Mahala’s father decided.  He knew that the next time could involve kidnapping, the taking of child brides and rape.  That was when the decision was made to come to Lebanon at any cost.  Like many, they are in this country illegally.

Mahala’s first months in Lebanon were spent living in a small room under stairs in Bourj Hammoud with 16 other family members.  The conditions were far worse than those their animals had on the family farm in Syria had known, they’d later recount.  So traumatized by their experiences, it was 6 months before the women and children even ventured outside their tiny room.

The first trip out was when Mahala’s mom and aunt attended a women’s meeting at the Life Center Beirut.  Soon the children were attending the Life Center too. Here they started to experience life as kids again while they had opportunities to learn and play.  Still, the family was warned to keep their ears closed from any talk of the Christian faith.

Then, suddenly Mahala’s father fell ill and was soon diagnosed with an incurable illness that couldn’t be treated. His blood count was low and rapidly dwindling as the illness took its course.  Eventually, he became bedridden, unable to breathe and then comatose.

It was during this time, Mahala (then 10), her mother, and siblings decided to give their life to Christ, making the declaration of faith as a family before the church.  After praying, Mahala requested that they go home, lay hands on her father and pray for healing.  At home, she lay her hands on her father and led the family in a prayer, praying the blood of Jesus over him and commanding sickness to leave his body.  She confidently announced that he would be in church the next Sunday testifying of his healing.   Indeed, that is exactly what happened!  He then stunned the doctors by making a full recovery from his terminal illness and even returning to work.

Mahala’s faith went from strength to strength after that as she began to attend school and learn to read the Bible for herself. Her mother considers her the spiritual mentor in the family. Her father’s testimony of healing and power brought other family members to the church and eventually to salvation as well.

The ripple effect of Mahala’s faith and boldness continues as one of her uncles has been ministering in some dark and dangerous places in the refugee community with a profound impact. Despite getting bullied at school, Mahala is also outspoken about her faith.  “What do I have to fear?” She says, “They are the ones that will be fearing after death if I don’t tell them about Jesus.”

I can already see where the groundwork is being laid that could turn the tide of a family, tribe, region, nation and generation.   Please pray God raise up more children like Mahala, and please pray our work at the Life Center and the Spring of Life learning program will allow us to influence other children similarly for the Kingdom of God!