By Marshall Ramsey, BosNewsLife North America Correspondent
COLUMBUS, OHIO (BosNewsLife)– Rifqa Bary, a young Muslim-turned-Christian girl who fled her home amid fears she would be killed turned 18 Tuesday, August 10, and is now released from Ohio state custody, BosNewsLife learned.
Bary made national news last year when she ran away from her Muslim parents after hiding for four years that she had become a born-again Christian. The girl contacted a pastor of a Florida church over the Internet and began conversations with him, telling him she feared being killed for her faith by her Muslim father — a charge he denied — or local mosque members.
Blake Lorenz, the Orlando pastor who took Bary in, said a trust has been set up for her, Charisma News online reported. He said he has been in contact with the teen since she returned to Ohio, though he and his wife were the focus of a criminal investigation for their involvement in helping her leave that state.
Partly because of his role in helping a minor cross state lines, Lorenz was ousted from his church but has since started a new one, Charisma News online said. But the charismatic pastor says if he had it to do over again, he would still help the teen. “We would definitely take her in and protect her life,” he was quoted as saying. “Everything was well worth it, protecting her life and seeing her through this, even though we lost a lot.”
Rifqa, now 18, was released from Ohio state custody on August 10, her birthday, as she is no longer considered a minor. However Christians remain concerned about her future. While it appears Bary is out of danger from her parents for the moment, she has to battle the United States Immigration system, explained the teen’s friend, Jamal Jivanjee.
He said however that she has developed strong friendships with Christians across the country. “There’s a lot of people who are willing to take her in and provide for her,” he added in published remarks.
Rifqa apparently moved to the US with her parents from Sri Lanka, and is considered an illegal alien.
She has requested that immigration authorities grant her special immigration status, in part to continue consulting with doctors about her health problems. In May of this year, Rifqa Bary learned that she had uterine cancer, a disease that experts say affects women of all ages.
From 1998-2002, according to American Cancer Society statistics, the highest percentage of cases of uterine cancer was between the ages of 55 and 64, with the median age being 63. Rifqa, 17 at the time, would have fallen in the under age 20 category. While not impossible, the data suggests that it is very rare for a teenager to contract the disease.
Bary is now reported to be cancer free.