Aya [Of Luck and Love.]

Aya and I.

Aya probably looks rather reserved and demure to you-but you might be intrigued to learn that for a Senegalese Muslim woman, she is every inch a spit-fire! Several years ago she fell in love with her cousin [neither an atypical nor unacceptable phenomenon in Senegal], and he spent great amounts of time going to greater lengths to desperately try to steal her heart for a lifetime, and persuade her to marry him. Aya had higher aspirations than to simply be his wife, and that sweet, headstrong Muslim woman told him with admirable bluntness that she knew if she were to marry him, he would prevent her from getting an education. After three years of consistently refusing his impassioned advances and pleas, Aya at long last consented to marry her cousin with his ardent promise that he would allow her to finish her time at university. Thus, Aya spends her weeks at UCAD [the university at which I work], and some of her weekends back in her village with her husband.

The first time that I met Aya, I asked her what it was like to be married. She hesitantly smiled and told me that she enjoys it, but then confessed that she is terrified that her husband will “take another wife”. Apparently “Prince Charmant” is anything but-Aya’s husband has informed her that as long as she is a “good wife” he won’t marry anyone else. And so Aya throws herself into desperately trying to be an excellent Muslim wife-keeping an immaculate house, taking care of her husband’s family, spending long, hot hours bent over a small Bunsen burner cooking all of his favorite foods…and she lives in perpetual fear that one day she’ll walk through her front door and find her husband holding another woman.

Aya’s days are saturated by anxious fear that she will lose the conditional love of her husband. Yesterday over lunch, she began to ask me questions about conditional love and death. I explained to her how the gospel beautifully, perfectly speaks to both of those things-and she became very quiet. With wistful, haunting eyes that suddenly seemed very far away and the faintest shadow of a very sad smile, Aya looked at me and sighed, “You are very lucky.” Confused, I asked Aya to explain herself, and she very simply replied: “Because Jesus died for you.”

Oh Aya. Jesus died for you too! It was with unspeakable joy that I was able to explain that the gospel is not only for the white Western woman that was sitting across the table from Aya yesterday afternoon-it is for the veiled black woman enslaved by fear and doubt. Aya’s husband may never learn to love her well, but the God of the Universe passionately, recklessly, sacrifically, unconditionally adores Aya and is relentlessly pursuing her heart.

Pray that as Aya begins to understand this, that Jesus would sweep her up into the divine romance that is walking with Him.


  1. Just a few comments, one, I’m proud that you are not making mistakes in your blog (or you’ve found someone else to proof them…), two, you used my term spit-fire which made me laugh, three, God is using y’all in a great and powerful way, and four, I can’t wait to come next year

  2. Haha, I had to go back and self-edit! Brutal. :) …yes, yes I used spit-fire. In my defense, most of my extended family has called me a spit-fire at one point or another! ;) [Probably because it’s true…] We can’t WAIT to have you!! :)


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