Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
There are many.
And many are finding their rest in Him.
In her moving autobiography, Song of the Nightingale, Eritrean gospel singer Helen Berhane tells the inspiring story of how she was detained for two years because of her Christian faith and her unwillingness to renounce her beliefs. She faced brutal beatings and abuse, which included being kept for prolonged periods in a metal shipping container in the scorching heat of the desert.
“The air is thick with a dirty metallic tang, the ever-present stench of the bucket in the corner, and the smell of close-pressed, unwashed bodies.
I peer around, trying to work out where she is, the woman whose mind is gone. She is worse now there are more of us; nineteen in a space that can only sleep eighteen. Tonight she is quiet, and it makes me uneasy.
Suddenly, without warning, hands close on my neck like a vice. Then there is a guttural snarl, and I know that it is her, the madwoman, her fingers tight on my throat. All around us prisoners are waking up. I gulp down a breath and manage a scream. The other prisoners start to shout too, and bang the sides of the container.
There are shouts now coming from outside, and the sound of hurrying feet, the noise of the bolts sliding back and the pop as air rushes into the container and then the doors are flung open.
The guards pull her out of the container, and slam the door again.
Sometimes I cannot believe that this is my life: these four metal walls, all of us corralled like cattle, the pain, the hunger, the fear. All because of my belief in a God who is risen, who charges me to share my faith with those who do not yet know him, and who I am forbidden to worship”.
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. There are many Helen’s today.