30 May 2016

Secret Christian risks death in Saudi Arabia

Open Doors contacts have been supporting a secret believer, Mohammed* from Saudi Arabia, after he learned about the Christian faith on the internet.

Leaving Islam is punishable by death in Saudi Arabia, meaning Mohammed's choice comes with terrible risk. While no Christians have been executed for leaving Islam by the Saudi authorities in recent years, some have been handed over to their relatives and vanished, never to be heard from again. Leaving Islam is seen as a great source of shame to Saudi families and communities.

Mohammed* had begun to question his faith in Islam, and found an online discipleship course that is supported by Open Doors, which helped him learn about the foundations of Christianity from the Bible. Eventually, he made contact with some Christians in another country in the Middle East through a Christian website aimed at the Arab world. He sent them a message saying: "I know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. Can I visit you? Please take me to church and give me a Bible."

The team who received his message invited him to come and visit them in their country, and within days he had arrived. They took him to a church for the first time, and in the week that followed, Mohammed joined every Bible study meeting available, sometimes up to four a day, and spoke a lot with the pastors.

After a few days one of the pastors asked Mohammed: "Mohammed, who is Jesus for you?" Mohammed responded: "He is my Saviour, my God."

A few days later, Mohammed was baptised in front of his new brothers and sisters in Christ. The next day he returned to Saudi Arabia with a Bible.

Not long after returning from his 'business trip', Mohammed's wife found his Bible in his study, and demanded to know what it was. Mohammed explained to her that it was given to him during his recent visit, and that he wanted to read it as the Quran names the Bible as one of the holy books of Islam. After listening to his explanation, his wife asked him: "When you are finished with the Bible, can I read it too?"

Mohammed has not met a single fellow Christian in Saudi Arabia. The Christians he met with in another country will continue to support him over the internet.

Most of the 1.4 million Christians in Saudi Arabia are expatriates or migrant workers. However, there are a small number of Muslim background believers there. Satellite TV and the internet are enabling Saudis to hear about the Christian faith, and there are reports of God revealing himself to Muslims through dreams and visions. However, these believers must keep their faith secret.

It is estimated that there are more Saudi Christians outside of the country than within it - many feel they have no choice but to flee.

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Note to Editors

For more information contact Open Doors Press Office on 01993 777377

Saudi Arabia is number 14 on the Open Doors 2016 World Watch List, which ranks the 50 countries where Christians face the greatest persecution.

Open Doors UK & Ireland is part of Open Doors International, a global NGO network which has supported and strengthened persecuted Christians for 60 years. Last year supporters in the UK and Ireland raised over £11.7 million to provide practical support to persecuted Christians such as food, medicines, trauma care, legal assistance, safe houses and schools, as well as spiritual support through Christian literature, training and resources, in over 60 countries.

*name changed for security reasons