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Ashtar was not feeling well. For some time she had a swelling under her arm. It was becoming increasingly difficult for her to grind her millet. She did not realize that she was dying of cancer. There was no medicine at the hospital and all we could give her was aspirin. As her health declined, we brought her food and a cassette player that spoke in the local Arabic.
Ashtar was from a large tribe called the Massalite in Chad. She had never been to school and realized that being born a girl in a Muslim country, she was worth only one third the value of a man. She had to work since she was five, was married before she was fourteen and was now a widow. Her only son was in his teens. When her husband was alive he probably reminded her that the prophet said, "Hell was created for women!" What hope had she of paradise?
As she listened to the message on the cassette, something touched her heart. It taught her of a Prophet who had come to tell her that God loved her. He had angered the self-righteous religious people and He cared for women! She lay back and listened without really understanding. But as she listened to the messages over and over again she started to grasp what was being said. Light came into her heart. She heard words that in the midst of pain were peace to her. Her son on his visits was amazed. He saw a dying woman but she had no fear. His mother radiated peace.
We were away at a conference when Ashtar died. On our return we heard that she had refused to say the Muslim declaration on her deathbed, as was the custom. She had declared instead that she believed in Jesus the Christ.
As a consequence, her mouth was stuffed with dirt and her body was buried in an unmarked grave. Not even her son knew where. However, there is a Massalite woman in heaven with the Lord, because of God's grace and two missionaries with a Gospel Recordings cassette.