6 June 2016

Secret Christian pretends to fast during Ramadan to avoid persecution

A secret Christian from southeast Asia has spoken to persecution charity Open Doors about how he must pretend to take part in Ramadan fasting to avoid persecution.

He says, "Being a secret believer, I have to pretend I am fasting in front of my Muslim colleagues. To do otherwise would result in suspicions and questionings. It is only when I'm alone or with other secret believers that I can be myself. It is not easy to live such a double life.

"Many secret believers like me dare not reveal our faith because if we are caught we will be sent to Islamic rehabilitation centres. I've heard stories of brainwashing, torture, and mental abuse to make believers from Muslim backgrounds recant their faith in Christ."

Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, is observed by Muslims worldwide as a month of fasting to commemorate the first revelation of the Quran to Muhammad, according to Islamic belief. For 30 days all healthy adult Muslims will be expected to fast during daylight hours.

The secret Christian recalls how he used to fast strictly during Ramadan when he was a Muslim. "Ever since I was 12 years old, I fulfilled my Ramadan 'quota' every year, until I became a Christian.

"When I was a Muslim, I fasted to get 'pahala', spiritual merits. I needed lots and lots of them so that at judgment day, when Allah weighed my deeds, my merits would hopefully outweigh my sins [and I could enter paradise]. That's why I tried to be a good Muslim by fulfilling all the laws in Islam. But even then, I still couldn't be sure that Allah would accept my merits and allow them to outweigh my sins.

"But praise God I am now a Christian, and I have Christ's assurance that my sins are washed away by His blood. I don't have this nagging fear anymore. Now I fast to deepen my relationship with God and to know Christ more."

He fears what may happen if his faith is discovered, and how he would respond if he was sent to an Islamic rehabilitation centre. "If that ever happens to me, I don't know how I will respond to such persecution. Yet I'm terrified of denying Jesus. Therefore, please pray for me and my fellow believers from Muslim backgrounds, that He will give us the strength not to deny Him."

Christians from Muslim backgrounds are often targets of persecution, as leaving Islam can be seen as a great source of shame to families and communities. In some parts of southeast Asia it is illegal to convert from Islam.

Open Doors works through local partners and churches to strengthen and equip persecuted Christians in Asia through Bible and literature distribution, supplying emergency relief aid, providing biblical and leadership training, and community development projects.

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Note to editors:

For more information contact Open Doors Press Office on 01993 777377

The full interview with this secret Christian is available on the Open Doors website

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