Aisha and her family had to flee their home in Chad because of persecution – but your prayers and support have sustained them as they start to build a new life. Islamic extremism is on the rise in West Africa, but you are helping to strengthen believers as they face increasing violence and hostility.
Aisha’s* journey to faith in Jesus began when her 27-year-old son Mansour* left their home in Chad in search of a better life in Libya. But things did not work out for him there and he returned facing accusations of involvement with terrorism. He was immediately locked up.
While Mansour was in prison, a pastor constantly visited and shared the gospel with him; he also often prayed with Mansour. To Mansour’s great surprise and relief, he was released a while later, with all charges dropped. He believes it is thanks to the prayers of the pastor.
Aisha, a devoted Muslim and mother-of-five, remembers her son’s release from prison well; it was this moment she knew in her heart that the prayers of Christians were heard and answered. Around the same time, she had a neighbour who often shared the gospel with her. From what she had heard and now seen about Christ, Aisha became convinced that God’s Word was true. “I decided then that I wanted to follow Jesus,” she says.
“It was announced in the mosque during prayers that I had converted to Christianity. It did not go down well in the community.”Aisha
But her newfound faith was almost immediately put to the test when, a short time later, she became ill. The church assisted her with medicines, but her illness grew worse, and she ended up in hospital. Up until now, she had kept her faith a secret from her Muslim community, but she decided to take a risk. One day, while a nurse was about to give her some medicine, Aisha requested that they pray first. This request was strange to the Muslim nurse, and when she asked about it, Aisha admitted that she was a Christian.
The nurse alerted others who were around, and Aisha knew she was in big trouble.
“The following Friday, it was announced in the mosque during prayers that I had converted to Christianity. It did not go down well in the community,” Aisha remembers. “Soon, a group of Muslim women came to the house to get me to return to Islam. When we saw them coming, my daughter quickly took my Bible and hid it. They asked that they wanted to speak with me, and then insisted that I must pray with them, because I was a Muslim. I told them to let me go and do ablutions before prayer and used that opportunity to flee.”
Aisha fled through the back window and sought refuge at the pastor’s house. Realising that, the women raised the alarm and an angry crowd soon gathered at the pastor’s house, some of them carrying knives and insisting that the pastor release her to them.
When Aisha refused to come out, the crowd took her daughter Ameena* hostage in order to blackmail her to come back to Islam. A few days later, Aisha went to appear before the gendarmerie (local armed police force) after the mob reported her. She told them that she chose Christ over their threats and, eventually, she and her daughter were let go.
After Aisha’s refusal to return to Islam, she was considered a traitor. The tension became too much, and her church feared the worse. So they helped Aisha and her daughter to discreetly, but urgently, leave.
Aisha is currently cared for by a local church in a different area. With their support, she has rented a small house where she lives with Ameena and Mansour. She sells vegetables to earn some money and meet her basic needs; unfortunately, Mansour has been struggling to find work because of his faith. Her church has advised her against worshipping openly in the church for the time being, for her safety.
“I depend on God... I know the afflicted will be comforted.”Aisha
Thanks to you, Aisha and her family have received financial support from local Open Doors partners to start a small trade business. She is grateful for the timely intervention in their lives.
“Thank you very much for this support; may God bless you,” she says. She plans to start a business selling puff rolls, while Mansour intends to open a small restaurant.
But it’s not just Aisha you’ve helped; thanks to your prayers and gifts, dozens of other believers from Muslim backgrounds in Chad have received support. Additionally, Open Doors partners have provided a motorcycle to a church leader doing cross-cultural ministry.
None of the difficulties that Aisha and her family have been through have succeeded in stifling her faith. “I depend on God,” she declares. “Material [things are] nothing. When I read Matthew 5 where Jesus says, ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for the kingdom of God is theirs’, it comforts me. I know that the afflicted will be comforted.
“And then the suffering of Job also encourages me. If Job suffered, so I say, why not me? After the suffering of Job, I know that one day, I also will be set free. They nailed Jesus on the cross. He suffered on the cross. I am also ready for that if it comes. It is life. It can happen. I am ready.”
Aisha’s faith has also been a huge testimony to Mansour. “She encourages me to pray even in my heart; and she often tells me that I do not need ablutions or the like. The pastor has also given me a Bible in French, so I have begun reading it, and I find much truth in it,” he shared.
Chad is currently at number 63 on Open Doors’ World Watch List, and it has been steadily falling in the rankings in recent years. But, as Aisha’s story testifies, it is still dangerous to convert away from Islam and follow Christ.
On paper, Chad guarantees freedom of religion, but in practise, Christians – especially those from other faiths – face considerable pressure. There is a heavy Islamic influence in politics, the economy, society and on the day-to-day affairs of the country. Also, Islamic extremism is on the rise, mainly caused by the presence of Boko Haram.
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