In the Horn of Africa, the number of Muslim Background Believers (MBBs) has increased radically despite the high cost conversion. Recently Open Doors workers met with several MBBs, including 20 year old Hawa.
When the gate of our rural venue opens, a frail woman covered from head to toe in a black chador hesitantly enters. With each step the garment lifts just enough to reveal the tips of her bright blue sandals.
“My name is Hawa,” she whispers shyly in her own language. “Could I have a drink of water?”
After a short meal to recover from her long journey, Hawa tells us her story. “I grew up in a wealthy family. My father is a Muslim leader who travels to different Arab countries to teach Islam… they decided they would send me to an Arab country for spiritual instruction as soon as I finish school.”
But their plans were put on hold when she contracted a serious lung disease.
“One night in hospital I had a dream. I saw a man who was smiling and crying at the same time. I somehow knew he was weeping for me. I bowed down before him and asked, ‘Please help me. Show me the way. How can I be free from this disease?’”
Hawa told her family about the dream, but no one understood it. “I was very frustrated. I had no one to talk to about my dream, but I thought about it every day. I simply had to know who the one weeping for me could be.”
After leaving the hospital, Hawa shared her vision with a local mosque leader. He told Hawa, “What you saw was Jesus, the Messiah. The One who is weeping for sinners is the one and only Jesus.” To her surprise, he then gave her a Bible.
“For the next three months I read the Bible continually and little by little [I] learned about the love of Jesus for all men…” But Hawa knew her family would not approve.
“I hid the Bible under my pillow in the room I shared with [my] sister, Zulfa*… I decided to follow Christ, but no one knew because I continued to go to the mosque and do the required rituals. But my heart was filled with the love of Christ.”
Hawa was able to remain at her parents’ house as a secret believer, but only for a while.
“My family cleaned my room to repaint it and discovered the Bible under my pillow. My father was furious. He threw the book into my face. Then he took a whip and lashed me till I had scars. He also locked me in a room. My mother sent me food secretly whenever she could, but after three days my father chased me away. ‘You are dead to us!’ he told me.”
To Hawa’s surprise, Zulfa decided to come with her. She had heard enough about the love of Jesus to want to join Hawa on her journey of suffering. At great risk to himself, the mosque leader took Hawa and Zulfa in.
“Even today, they [my family] still hate me. That is why I always wear the chador. It offers me some protection. One day when I was walking along the road, my uncle walked toward me. I was so frightened of him that I tried to cross the road to get out of his way. There was a big construction hole by the road. When I tried to jump over it, I fell into the hole and broke one of the discs in my spine.”
Open Doors has helped Hawa and her sister with some medical expenses and to start a small cafeteria for continuing income. She has peace about her parents’ reaction to her faith. “I still love them and have not stopped praying for them. One day they will come to Christ and we will worship Him together…”
The Horn of Africa region includes, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Somalia.
Find out more about these and other countries where Christians are persecuted.
This article is featured in our Prayer Group Resources. Get a group together to pray for the persecuted and we will send you prayer resources, including stories like Hawa’s. Sign up here.
- Pray for Hawa’s back as she is still in great pain and has trouble moving.
- Pray for Hawa’s sister as well who has also come to Christ as a result of Hawa’s brave testimony.
- Pray with Hawa for her family, that they too would one day come to see Jesus as their saviour.
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