I just finished reading Dead Women Walking, a book by Jennifer Su. She is a missionary with the Overseas Missionary Fellowship in Taiwan. Su offers a startling and heartbreaking look at the lives of three Taiwanese women and their families. The stories are true; however, many names of the people in the book have been changed, except for those of the missionaries and pastors.
What surprised me most was the physical and sexual abuse these women endured. It broke my heart to hear the abuse the women suffered, some of it starting when they were young. As I was reading, I wondered why, as adults, they didn’t just leave and go get help. But I realized it was often more complicated than that: the women often feared losing custody of their children; they feared their husband’s anger (and the consequences) if he caught them trying to leave; they also feared the shame a separation or divorce would bring on their extended family.
The stories are compelling, yet painful. Praise God that all three women now have found hope and eternal life by accepting Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior! As they learned about God’s grace through his Word, they were eventually able to leave behind ancestor and idol worship. One of the women battled demon possession throughout her life – but through prayer and the work of the Holy Spirit, she is finally free of all the evil spirits that haunted her.
Since the early 1990s, Taiwan has taken steps to protect women and children from abuse through legislation and increased public awareness, as I learned by visiting the Garden of Hope Foundation’s website. The Garden of Hope served as a temporary home for one of the women in this book. I hope and pray the women and children of Taiwan who are in abusive relationships can get the help and support they need.
This book has given me a greater understanding of Taiwanese culture. While these personal stories are difficult and heartbreaking, it is worth reading this book to see God’s transforming power in the lives of these women who, as the author states, “seemed beyond hope”.