Saved By Her Enemy
By Audra Smith
The 700 Club
Don Teague and RafRaf Barrak. Ten years ago their lives were as different as could be.
Don was a respected journalist, with a family and the American dream.
RafRaf Barrak was a young Muslim woman living in Baghdad--struggling to find herself in a war-torn existence.
Then it happened… September 11th, 2001.
Don says, “When September 11th happened, I had an overwhelming feeling that my life was going to change. It was shortly after that, that I ended up being hired by NBC News, and I was going to find myself in a war.”
RafRaf was a world away, but change started for her that day, as well.
“I grew up in Baghdad in a family of 10 kids. I was 10 years old when the Gulf War started and I would sit home and watch the war right outside my door. And the bombings - to us it was colors in the sky and loud noises. We would ask my parents about it, and they would say, ‘Oh, it is just bad people.' We later knew that the people attacking us were Americans, so we grew up with the idea that America is so bad.”
RafRaf’s government sent her to major in English. Despite her fear of Americans, RafRaf became a translator for NBC in 2003.
“It was kind of a struggle to just stay focused. This is a job. I need to make the money and I need to be careful until I know who these people are. People didn't see me as someone who was helping the country.”
Don Teague was on assignment in Baghdad when he struck up an unlikely friendship with his translator, RafRaf. The two were on assignment together at a local school, when insurgents attacked.
RafRaf recalls, “It was supposed to be a happy story. We were talking to the kids, talking to everybody. They said, ‘Oh, we have one more interview.’ We were trying to do the interview and the bomb went off.
“And when it went off, I could not think of a thing at time. I just froze in my place. The first thing I heard after that was Don's voice. He was saying, ‘RafRaf! It's a bomb! Come inside! Come inside!”
“So we ran to the car and everyone got their body vests and Don at the time put his body vest on and he looked at me and said, ‘where’s yours?’ "
RafRaf didn’t have her body armor that day.
“He took his and put it on me and said, ‘Here take mine.’ ”
Don was relieved. “I was aware of the fact that I was alive. I was so happy that I was alive and I was going to get to go home to my wife and kids. RafRaf was there next to me and she WAS home. This was as good as it was going to get for her.”
RafRaf’s thoughts raced. “All these ideas started hitting me in the head of ‘What if these kids are hurt?’ ‘What if one of them got killed in this bombing?’ ‘Why would my own people kill my own people for such a reason?’ ‘Why would a foreigner that I don't even know – who I just met a few weeks ago – give me his vest?’ ”
“It was a wakeup call to me that maybe everything that I know; about everything in my life is wrong. And maybe I need to rethink every single step of my life.”
All of the crew members managed to escape unharmed that day.
Don thought, “There was a reason that this woman had been put in my life, and she was going to die if I didn't do something.”
Don and his wife Kiki, with the help of other NBC correspondents, fought to bring RafRaf to the United States for asylum.
“... it took 7 months of really beating our heads against the wall. It was impossible.”
But during those 7 months, despite the odds, Don and Kiki prayed and held tight to their faith. RafRaf finally made it safely to the United States.
Kiki, Don’s wife says, “It wasn't until I saw her sitting in my living room the day she got here. She still had her scarf on. She had her long clothes on. It just hit me like a ton of bricks. I’m like, ‘Oh my gosh! She has left everything.’ I could see how much God loved her, not because of who she was going be or what she was going to do, but just because of who she was. He just loved her.”
RafRaf says, “I was looking at the way they treated me. I mean, they opened more than their house to me. They opened their hearts.” I had a talk with Kiki. I said, ‘Why are you helping me?’ She said, ‘God told me to.’ ”
“I did not understand because, I don't know that God. And at the time, all I had in mind was the god I grew up with. I didn’t have that strong of a relationship with him.”
“Then, I started questioning other things like, ‘Why was I saved?’ and ‘Why was I that lucky?’ I was in a bombing. I was in a shooting. I was in a kidnapping attempt. I was in so many different things, but I stayed safe.”
“Okay, wait a second. That’s the God she is talking about! That’s the God that has saved me. That’s the God that has been with me along the way.”
Finally, after 4 years in the U.S, a dream helped RafRaf make a decision.
“I was dying in the dream. I was running away from my house which had the word SIN on it.”
In the dream, RafRaf found herself on the edge of the mountain, with no way to cross to the other side.
“There is this lady that tells me I am going to die any minute. And she needs to tell me the words. She needs to teach me words to cross the bridge to God. I couldn't even understand the words. I am like, ‘Teach me quick!’ And then I died. And I woke up and I was really scared.”
“So I grabbed my computer and I put ‘bridge to God.’ And it came out with this site that said. Imagine yourself on an edge of a mountain!’ I'm like, ‘He must have been with me in the dream!’ ”
“And it goes to explain that this is where you are in life and you are with your sins on one side of that mountain on that edge. And the only way to cross that gap between you and the other edge of that mountain to God is by accepting Christ.
One week later, RafRaf asked Kiki to help her pray. Kiki led her through a prayer to receive Christ.
“It is a relationship. It feels... Whenever I need Him, I can talk to Him. It is a love relationship; you know – respect and friendship, not fear. I am not scared of God, I love Him.”
Today, RafRaf is attending University and is touring the country with Don to share her story. The two have collaborated on a book called Saved by her Enemy.
Don says, “I think that if you look at the story of RafRaf and see how He moved in her life over a series of years, and so many things that there was no other way to explain that ultimately lead her to Him. I think that become the message of the book.”
Rafraf shares, “I just hope that people would realize that there is more to God and there is more to people. When God is working in people’s lives, it is all different. God is working in everybody's life in a different way. Whether it is little or much, He is there and He is doing His work.”
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