“Thank you, Lord, for changing the bitterness in my life to singing.”
28-year-old Waheed Ata broke into this spontaneous and heartfelt prayer as he shared his life story with viewers of SAT-7 ARABIC’s programme, Reforming.
Left blind for life after contracting meningitis as a baby, Waheed – like so many others with a disability in the Middle East and North Africa – has experienced deeply wounding discrimination and disadvantage.
Despite this, however, he told viewers that he had always been determined to make the most of his life. Securing a place at a school for blind students and learning braille helped him to make progress, but the harsh words he grew up hearing caused him searing emotional pain.
A new start
Breakthrough came when, still at secondary school, Waheed made the decision to follow Christ. “I gave up my life to the Lord completely,” he said. “From that day onwards, I’ve never cared about people’s judgments of me, because the Lord taught me to be filled with Him and His blessings. The Lord compensates and gives joy and peace.”
Coming top of his class in his high school exams, he went on to study history at university, marry and have a daughter. He now works full-time and is able to travel independently from his home in Minya to Cairo.
His inspiring example is not unique. Each episode of Reforming features a testimony from a Christian who has tackled, and in many cases overcome, the challenges of living with disability in the region. The programme aims to counter entrenched prejudice in the prevailing culture against people with disabilities by giving them a voice and a platform to share the valuable lessons they have learned. Time after time, interviewees testify to the enduring strength and comfort they draw from God in the face of seemingly insurmountable difficulties.
Life lessons for all
What’s more, the show’s impact is not limited to those living with disability, as its director, Hani Henein from Great Commission Media Ministry, explains: “Every case presented in this programme is a life lesson for all of us. [These lessons] cannot be taught theoretically, but only by seeing the wonders of the hand of God in shaping people’s lives.”
These wonders were captured powerfully in the courageous, faith-filled words Waheed shared with viewers. “All you who feel you don’t have value in society, who are fearful of people’s comments – give your life to Jesus Christ. He will help you overcome all obstacles and pain,” he said, “It’s enough for me that when my eyes open one day, they will see Jesus Christ first.”
- Praise God for Waheed’s energy, determination and the hope he found in Christ. Pray that many would want to learn more about his God.
- Lift Hani Heinen and the Reforming team to God, and pray for new vision and inspiration for them.
- Disability is so often met with hostility. Pray for a profound shift in attitude in the region.
- Pray for improvements in medical care for babies and young children, so avoidable issues don’t hamper their futures.
- “You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy” Psalm 30:11. Pray that these words would be increasingly meaningful for people in the Middle East and North Africa.