“Through Christ, I’ve come to love others,” says Ethiopian secret believer
“My name is Ibrahim*, I’m 20 years old. I grew up in a Muslim family who taught me that killing Christians was good. They taught me that it was the way to get a ‘ticket straight to heaven’.
“But the Cross always fascinated me. I never really knew what it meant other than the fact that it was a Christian symbol. But I kept researching it, and secretly started attending a local evangelical church. Finally, I understood that the Cross was my salvation. The Cross was my ‘free ticket’ to heaven, to salvation.
“The day I gave my life to Jesus, I remembered what my parents had taught me about Christianity. I knew they would be very upset. My father had even warned me as a child that if I ever became a Christian, he would kill me. I knew my conversion would bring utter shame to the family and there was no other response from them than to seek to kill me. I knew I couldn’t tell them, I knew their threats wouldn’t only be verbal. They would really seek to kill me.
“So, I kept my faith a secret. When I went to church I would lie and tell my parents that I was going to a football game. When the season eventually ended, I kept attending ‘football’.
“One day I came home, and my parents told me, “There was no match today. You have deceived us! You lied to us! Where have you been?” I tried to avoid answering their questions. My father said he had heard from others that I had been attending church, and that he was going to confirm with his sources first before he took any action.
“I knew I had to run away. I took nothing [and] left with only the clothes on my back.
“I stayed on the streets for a while and made plans to go to another area far away from there. But before I could leave, an evangelist called and said I could stay with him. I stayed with him for seven months before a relative spied me out. He had been watching me for a while and knew exactly where I lived and worked and attended church. He told my father exactly where to find me.
“My father was still furious about my decision and came to my workplace, shouting at me and harassing me in public. He accused me of betraying the family and bringing shame on them. I had to leave again. Again, I had nothing but the clothes on my back.
“It was then that I met someone from Open Doors who arranged a place to stay for me. Right now, I remain in hiding, as my brothers are out there searching for me to kill me and the evangelist who protected me.
“But there is no turning back for me. Before coming to Christ, I hated people. I was mistrusting. When I gave my life to Christ, I had to leave my home and all that I loved behind. It’s then that I began loving people. Peace filled my life. People measure their lives by what they own, but I know that peace comes from Jesus.”
Ibrahim attended a recent Open Doors youth ministry opportunity in Ethiopia, where he got to spend time with other persecuted young people and learn from them.
Please continue to pray for Ibrahim – that God will continue to reveal Himself to him and will surround him with His strength as he faces life without his family.
*Name changed for security reasons.