Searching for Jesus can be Dangerous
The internet can be a lifeline when you’re in isolation – something we have experienced because of COVID-19. But for Islèm, searching for a Christian community online was a dangerous decision.
A girl, just out of hospital, searched for Jesus on her smartphone. It was a dangerous thing to do. She knew that her Muslim community might reject her, or even kill her, if they found out her secret.
Islèm thought she was the only Christian in North Africa. But there is a secret and fast-growing network of Muslim-background believers living all across the region. And thankfully, they found her.
God, Why Me?
Islèm was 15 and had just been released from hospital after a suicide attempt. Her home life was difficult. She says, “My father was leaving the house a lot and he was aggressive.”
Islèm found herself in hospital for two months. During her isolation, she began to question her life and her faith. She says, “One night, I saw the moon and asked God: ‘Why me? Why did you create me? If you are God, show who You are.’”
Amazingly, it was the following day that the doctor gave Islèm permission to leave the hospital. Her mind was made up: she decided to change her life. She looked for Jesus online.
Islèm says, “I saw a page on Facebook called ‘Christians in [my country]’. It was strange for me. Maybe it was a sign. I clicked on it and sent a message. I was curious about what would happen.”
Joining a Community
Open Doors supports a network of follow-up workers who are able to establish contact to those searching for Christ online or through social media. Joining an underground community of believers proved to Islèm that she was not alone.
Islèm had found a spiritual home, peace in Jesus and a new community to belong to, but she was terrified about what would happen if her father discovered her new faith.
In North Africa, conversion from Islam means rejection from family and community. It means a life of isolation, imprisonment and, even, the threat of death.
Without support, secret believers, like Islèm, find it almost impossible to grow in their new Christian life. Under pressure from all sides, some return to the religion of their community.
And COVID-19 has made that even harder. Secret believers are even more isolated and often lack the family and community support to keep going through a crisis.
Islèm lives in constant tension, knowing her faith in Jesus puts her in danger – even from her own family. That's why your prayers and support are such a lifeline.
She says, “Living as a Christian from a Muslim background in North Africa isn’t easy. But it is worth it. I thank God for it, to know the truth and to know who God really is.”
- - That vulnerable believers, facing persecution, hardship and fear, will be encouraged and strengthened in their faith.
- - For effective online outreach to isolated believers, including secret churches.
- - For churches, pastors and volunteers risking their own safety to support isolated and vulnerable believers. They risk exposure to persecution and to the coronavirus. Pray that they will be protected and that they will reach those most in need.
Gracious God, you have promised to be a refuge for the needy and a hope for the hopeless. We pray that our brothers and sisters would be comforted by this promise today. Please give isolated believers a community to fellowship with and the strength to continue in the faith. Please protect these communities from the ravaging pandemic and bless them with health. In Jesus name, amen.