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Persecuted Church - encouraging testimony

No more fear

As a devoted Muslim, Ibrahim was always ready to defend the Quran. So, when a man walked into his small store in Yemen one day in 1997 and asked him a startling question — “Have you ever read the Bible?” — he proudly told the man that he believed the Bible was full of error and distortion.

At the end of their conversation, the man gave Ibrahim a New Testament and urged him to read it for himself. Ibrahim agreed, intending to make note of every problematic verse he found. But the more he read the Bible, the more problems he saw with the Quran. “I was trying to help him become a Muslim, but it caused me a headache,” Ibrahim recalled.

After reading Jesus’ teachings to “love your enemies” and “bless those who curse you,” Ibrahim considered leaving Islam. He knew, however, that following Jesus Christ would bring shame to his family and endanger his life. At the man’s urging, he continued to study the Scriptures more deeply and ask God to reveal the true way to Him. Finally, about a year later, he placed his faith in Christ. “In my heart I felt peace to accept Jesus,” he said. “I accepted Jesus the month before Ramadan.”

The peace Ibrahim felt in accepting Jesus Christ was soon joined by an extreme fear of being discovered as a Christian. For four years, he hid his Bible in the back yard. Ibrahim had every reason to be afraid; in Yemen, Christian converts from Islam can be sentenced to death.

Then, one day, he decided the fear made no sense. “I was tired of fear and I asked myself a question: If I believe in Jesus and this is true and He grants me eternity, why should I fear?’

After being baptised, in 2002, Ibrahim establish a church in Yemen, but his wife, Fatima, was furious that he had left Islam to become an “infidel,” and she worried about how their Islamic community and her family would respond, although she couldn’t deny the changes in her husband’s behaviour.

Eventually their extended families learned about Ibrahim’s faith in Jesus Christ, and both families disowned them.

With a vision of planting a church, Ibrahim frequently visited a Yemeni city where he discipled Christian converts from Islam, but in 2009 Islamic extremists spread Ibrahim’s name and personal information, including the location of his store, on the internet. They dubbed him the “leader of the Yemeni church”.

Fearing for his life, Ibrahim fled to a neighbouring country where he found a job and continued to pray that his wife and sons would come to know Christ. He shared the Gospel with Yemeni immigrants and they started a house church.

Fatima, meanwhile, had begun taking English lessons from an American woman in Yemen who urged her to read the Scriptures in order to learn something about her husband’s religion. She felt drawn to God’s Word, but was afraid of her family.

One night she dreamed about a man in white who reassured her with the words, “Do not be afraid.” She woke up trembling. Reasoning that the dream could have come only from God, she prayed and accepted Christ as her Saviour, despite knowing the potential consequences. Fatima and the boys joined Ibrahim two months later. Ibrahim says, “I told my wife there is a price to be paid if you follow Jesus.”

After his son was kidnapped by extremists for being a Christian, Ibrahim was wary of further Islamist attacks. So, he fled with his family to an African country. As Ibrahim’s visa later approached expiration, he applied for refugee status, which he was later granted. In the process, he met other Yemeni refugees. “I said, ‘Thank you, Lord. Now I understand why you sent me here,’” he recalled. Ibrahim’s family church soon grew into a house church, as some Yemeni and even a handful of Sudanese refugees began to join their Arabic worship services.

Today, one room in Ibrahim’s house serves as storage for food items, which he distributes to 50 refugee families. The ministry also pays school fees for 20 refugee children and distributes Bibles and memory cards loaded with digital Bibles and Christian literature. In addition, Ibrahim takes great pride in a Yemeni youth soccer team that he provided with uniforms and equipment as an outreach to Muslims. “The purpose for all of this is for Jesus to be glorified,” Ibrahim said.

Since 2013, Ibrahim’s ministry team has baptised 13 Yemenis, and they expect to baptise three more soon. Ibrahim is reaching out to Yemeni refugees in many nations. Ibrahim sees this as a “time of harvest” among refugees, especially those from Yemen. He said he has never seen an openness to the Gospel like what has occurred since the outbreak of civil war.

Source: Voice of the Martyrs

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