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One of the worst days of Elidamares (“Eli”) de Almeida’s life was the day she had to take her husband to the doctor with her. The 40-something elementary school teacher from Brazil had recently immigrated with her family to the U.S. She knew very little English and was almost completely dependent on others.
In Brazil, she was a capable and independent woman with a bachelor’s degree in education. “I was free to do everything I wanted or to solve any kind of problem.” Not so when she came to America.
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Seven years ago, Christian singer-songwriter Lori Sealy experienced what she describes as a fierce battle against the “old vestiges of atheistic doubt.” It went back to her torturous teenage years and her even more difficult beginnings.
Conceived as a result of an adulterous affair, Sealy was almost aborted. Thankfully, her mother decided to walk out of the abortion clinic at the last minute. Sealy was soon adopted, but her adoptive mother struggled with mental illness. Consequently, their relationship was stormy and didn’t do much to help Sealy wrestle through her spiritual questions. She grew up in a church, but it didn’t help much either.
“From my earliest years I had longed to know and understand God, but my questions were either met with petty pat answers, calls to blind belief, or hypocritical hubris.” Fed up, Sealy “turned the page on God.” And while still in high school she began a new chapter of “theistic disdain.”
Photo courtesy of byFaith magazine.
Jack Graham knows it’s a miracle that he’s lived to see his 83 years. A former ruling elder (Good Shepherd Presbyterian, St. Louis), Graham recounts how his mother had to stuff straw in his mouth when he was a baby to keep him from crying as they hid in rice paddies to escape being captured by the Communists.
Graham’s parents and grandparents were missionaries with China Inland Mission, and for decades they labored to plant churches. Graham’s grandfather was influential in translating the Bible into the native Miao language.
When Graham was 6, his parents sent him to Chefoo School, an English school 2,000 miles away. After Pearl Harbor, the Japanese invaded China, captured Chefoo, and sent Graham, his sister, and the 150 other students and teachers to Weihsien Internment Camp, where they joined 1,500 other prisoners, including Olympic runner and missionary Eric Liddell (featured in “Chariots of Fire”). Graham remembers that Liddell worked in one of the prison kitchens and spent much of his time distracting the children with stories and games. He died at age 43 from a brain tumor, just five months before the camp was liberated.