Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | October 23, 2011

No Longer Unwanted

I have had an interest in names since I was a kid, perhaps because I had one of the more unusual or less common names among my classmates while growing up. I am actually named after my Dad. However, my Dad was named after a 12th century Persian poet named Omar Khayyám because my grandfather was very fond of his poetry. The name Omar has served me well over the years, especially on my travels to Muslim countries. One of my more interesting name-related experiences happened in Darfur in 2005. One evening a Muslim doctor from Chad who was working at the hospital in Al-Fashir drove to the house where I was staying. He knew that I was there with a team of Christian men. The good doctor greeted our team and then said, “Come with me, Mr. Omar” and motioned for me to get into his vehicle. So, I looked at my team and told them I would see them later … hopefully. The doctor then drove me to a house not far from where we were staying. “Come in,” he said. When I walked in I saw several other Muslim men seated at a table, waiting to eat. The doctor then turned to me and said, “Mr. Omar, we are curious. You are a Christian but you have a Muslim name. Tell us how you got your name.” So, my name gave me favor and opened up a wonderful door of opportunity for me to share with a group of curious Muslim men.

Associated Press Photo

Names are important. The writer of Proverbs wrote, “A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold” (Prov. 22:1). This morning I read an interesting story about names in an Associated Press article entitled, “Hundreds of Indian Girls Named ‘Unwanted’ Choose New Names.” According to the story, 285 girls who had names like “Nakusa” or “Nakushi” which mean “unwanted” in Hindi, participated in a renaming ceremony. These girls were saddled with this terrible name by parents who were disappointed that they had a girl instead of a boy. The writer also noted that the name “unwanted” — a name that makes these girls feel they are worthless or a burden to their families — is “widely given to girls across India.” Some girls chose new names with meanings such as prosperous, beautiful, and good. One 15-year-old girl chose the name “Ashmita” which means “very tough” or “rock hard” in Hindi. She said, “Now in school, my classmates and friends will be calling me this new name, and that makes me very happy.” Each of the girls received a certificate stating their new official names during the renaming ceremony.

I like the name Ashmita. It reminds me of another story about a person who was given a similar name. When Andrew first brought his brother Simon to Jesus, the Bible tells us that “Jesus looked at him” (John 1:42). The particular Greek word for “looked” is one that speaks of an intense and concentrated gaze — the kind of look that is able to see beyond the actualities to behold the possibilities. That’s why Jesus said, “So you are Simon son of John?” — in other words, “I can see who and what you are.” However, Jesus looked beyond those actualities to behold what others did not see in Simon. Jesus said to him, “You shall be called Cephas (which means Peter).” Peter is the Aramaic word for “stone” or “rock.” Jesus saw what no one else could see in Simon: the capacity for this fisherman to become a solid and rock-like man. So, Jesus gave Simon a new name, one that would always remind him of his potential.

I’m glad that today, 285 young girls in India selected new and good names for themselves, names that will help them to have a fresh start in life and remind them of their potential. And, I applaud Dr. Bhagwan Pawar who came up with the idea for the renaming ceremony. No one deserves to be called unwanted or to be stripped of the worth and dignity with which God clothed us.


Responses

  1. Wow brother. This is so touching. Thanks for sharing.

    • Hi Matt. Blessings to you and your team as you serve in Colombia. Please give my regards to Don Waybright.

  2. In Uganda ,some would think you were from either Northern, Eastern Uganda or from the West Nile/Nubian desert.

    • Thanks, Veronica, for all that you and the staff at The Comforter’s Center do every day to affirm the worth of young girls and their unborn babies. Your work in Kampala and beyond is making a difference. Blessings to you all.

  3. What a wonderful thing for these girls! And it’s a reminder to me as a mom to speak words of affirmation and ‘life’ over my loved ones, including my husband! Great post, Omar.

  4. Omar Khayyam?! You have got to be kidding! I LOVE his quatrains and they have a special place in my personal library. Omar Khayyam was born at Nishapar, in the province of Khorasan, Persia. His famous work Rubaiyat is made up of four line stanza. They have ten to thirteen syllables in each line and the 1st, 2nd and 4th lines rhyme, and sometimes all four rhyme.

    I have always loved this particular quatrain:

    Ten Powers and Nine Spheres, Eight Heavens enrolled
    And Planets Seven of Six Sides He enscrolled;
    From Senses Five, Four Elements, Three Souls, God
    In Two Worlds, man! like thee but ONE did mould!

    I also love Rumi and Sa’adi.

    Tammy

    • My grandfather especially loved the Rubaiyat. I have good memories of listening to him talk about Khayyam’s poetry.

  5. Nice to know about names…Pastor Omar may our God bless you so much!!!

    • Gracias, Carlos. Saludos a todos mis amigos en El Salvador.

  6. Hey Omar Bro! My grandmother must have quoted Prov. 22:1 to me a million times. She strongly believed in purity in life and spirit. She was quite a woman. I pray these young girls can grow and see their potential as God sees them! I love these great stories! Thanks!

    • Prov. 22:1 is a great verse. Kudos to your grandmother for quoting it so often. Thanks for following my blog.


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