BY WILLIAM STARK
When dealing with Christian persecution on a global scale, it is sometimes easy for me to overlook or forget about the individual stories of suffering Christians. Every day, untold numbers of suffering Christians across the world struggle to practice the Christian Faith. All of these suffering Christians experience persecution individually and have individual testimonies to share. This is one of those testimonies.
Many Muslim Background Believers are forced to live their Christian lives in secret. Continuing to wear clothing sanctioned by Islam, these Christian women risk their lives to worship Jesus Christ.
A Fellowships Struggle to Worship Freely
There is a fellowship of Somali Christians worshiping in Kenya who I count among these untold numbers of suffering Christians. In 2012, ICC started supporting this fledgling Christian fellowship by providing them with Bibles and other items they needed to conduct fellowship meetings. Comprised of Muslim Background Believers, these Christians are forced to worship in secret, risking life in limb to meet and study the Bible.
For the security reasons, I have changed names and locations regarding this fellowship. The leader of this fellowship is Peter Mohammed. Peter is a Muslim Background Believer. Growing up in a Muslim home, Peter was sent to school in Saudi Arabia where he was trained to be an Imam. While living in Ethiopia and working as an Imam, Peter had an encounter with Jesus Christ and converted to Christianity.
After his conversion, his wife’s family became increasingly hostile towards him and his wife, who is Muslim, left Peter taking with her their two children. In her care, the children were forced to attend a Madrassa (an Islamic school) even though they had been taught Christianity from birth. When Peter discovered what had happened, he tracked down his wife and fled with his children to Kenya. Without a job or a community to help him, Peter struggled to put enough food on the table for himself and his children.
While in Kenya, Peter met up with a small fellowship of Muslim Background Believers meeting in a Somali neighborhood. Because this fellowship came from a similar background, Peter joined the fellowship and eventually became their spiritual leader.
Because the members of this fellowship are Muslim Background Believers and they live in an area of Kenya where the extremist group al-Shabaab is present, the fellowship has to meet in secret. If the fellowship was to be discovered, the consequences of that discovery could be deadly.
Because the fellowship’s situation is tense, I like to keep updated on how these suffering Christians are doing. In January, Peter sent in his first report regarding the fellowship. This report reflects the struggle Peter and his fellowship go through to practice Christianity.
An Update from the Front
“The most recent count of people attending the fellowship is 27, ten of which are new believers. Six believers were brought to Christ in January. The four others were brought to Christ in December. All of them are Muslim Background Believers so their conversion to Christianity will cause them a lot of hardship,” Peter wrote.
“We lost one of our stronger believers. Her name was Maria and she was a mother of three children. She went missing on December 20. After searching for her for a month, we discovered that she was killed by Muslim radicals because of her conversion to Christianity.”
Peter is also beginning to experience higher levels of persecution. On Feb. 17, three cars followed Peter to his residence, which he reported to the police the next day. Peter later discovered that his wife, who married a Muslim man after Peter fled to Kenya, was now searching Kenya to take back the children.
Threats against Peter have intensified in recent weeks, forcing him to change the location of the fellowship after every meeting. It is unknown whether Peter’s ex-wife has discovered the location of Peter’s home or the locations of the fellowship, but if discovered it is almost certain that extremists in the area will be notified and the fellowship could be attacked.
Persecution continues to affect Christians on a global scale, but it is important to understand and learn from the testimony each suffering Christian has to offer. The situation faced by Peter and the fellowship must be one of crushing anxiety. The testimony of these suffering Christians has given me hope. Even though Peter and the fellowship face persecution on its most intense scale, I have never heard once that anyone is considering leaving Christianity. I am not sure how many Christians in the U.S. would measure up to this level of faith, but the fact that these Christians exist gives my Christian faith strength.