When a grandmother in Africa recently put her faith in Christ after the death of her husband, her Muslim in-laws were furious, especially as her conversion led to her nine children and four grandchildren becoming Christians.
Arafa* had been in charge of teaching Islam to women when a native missionary led the recently widowed woman to receive Christ. Her Muslim in-laws not only beat her but began a campaign in the courts to deprive her and her family of their legal property rights, the leader of a native ministry said.
Local missionaries and other Christians gave her refuge in another town and helped pay for food. The family was able to stay in the town for a few months before they faced Islamist hostilities that forced them to relocate again, the leader said.
Some of Arafa’s children had married young, as she had, so she had already become a grandmother when her youngest son, Abu*, was just 14 years old. When local missionaries helped them relocate the second time, it wasn’t long before another Muslim relative found out about their faith and knifed her son, the leader said.
“She was welcomed by a servant of God and was trying to settle down again when her 14-year-old son was stabbed by one of his cousins who wanted to kill him because he had become kafir [infidel],” he said.
Arafa rushed him to a hospital, though she had no money to pay for the urgent treatment he needed to survive, he said.
“Once we were informed, we acted urgently to have the money given to the mother in the hospital, and thank God Abu was saved,” the ministry leader said. “This gesture helped the family, Abu is now in good health and the whole family is prospering in the Christian life.”
Nine in 10 Christians killed for their faith last year were in Africa, according to Open Doors’ 2021 World Watch List report.
The deaths reflect not only increasing criminality by Muslim extremist groups but expansion of the church as Africa becomes the growth center of Christianity. During the WWL’s latest reporting period, from November 2019 to October 2020, Nigeria led the world in Christian martyrs with 3,530, followed by the Democratic Republic of Congo with 460, Pakistan with 307, Mozambique with an estimated 100, Cameroon with 53, Burkina Faso with 38, an unidentified country with 36, the Central African Republic with 35 and Mali with 33.
Workers with the local ministry in Arafa’s country, which is unidentified for security reasons, often come across former Muslims who have lost their jobs upon converting and are unable to obtain new ones despite high levels of education and experience.
“One man who left Islam remains without work because of his faith in Christ, even though he has many aptitudes,” the ministry leader said.
When the landlord locked him out of his rented home because he was unable to make payments, the local ministry provided him funds to pay rent and meet his family’s other needs.
“He is very grateful to the ministry for this gesture, which has restored his dignity,” the leader said.
A former Muslim who worked as a computer scientist in another country was kicked out of his home when he turned to Christ and had to leave the area – and his job – due to threats.
“His new conversion to Christ was detected in the family, and he was hunted again,” the ministry leader said. “The ministry not only provided him with assistance on two occasions, but we have been obliged to allow him to stay for a month on our premises.”
The persecuted Christian said he was grateful for the help that he received.
“For a month and a few weeks, the workers have been helping me and even lodged me at their offices because I had nowhere to go,” he said. “They helped me financially, morally, physically and spiritually.”
In another country on the continent, a convert from Islam before his death left his three sons, ages 12 to 19, in the care of a local ministry – only to have Muslim relatives travel 100 miles to carry them back and force them to return to Islam, according to the leader of a native ministry.
The three brothers then trekked the entire distance back to the ministry, he said.
“Now they are in a hiding place,” the leader said. “We trust the Lord will help them as these three are doing well and love the Lord. They are completely transformed.”
Local missionaries are helping new Christians who are persecuted for their faith throughout Africa. Please consider a donation today to equip workers to strengthen and protect them.
*Name changed for security reasons