The Challenges of Muslim Background Believers
This is a guest post from Heather Mercer. In addition to being a great friend of East-West, Heather is the Founder of Global Hope, an organization dedicated to advancing the worship of Jesus in the Muslim world. You can find Global Hope on Facebook and Twitter.
Gideon worked as our day guard while I was living in the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. A land of more than 48,000 mosques, not a single church, and only a handful of believers, Afghanistan enforced the strictest form of Islamic law.
Gideon, a self-confessed, but non-practicing Muslim, answered our front door when the widows, orphans, and even the Taliban came for a visit. He was a sweet, frail man diminished by years of war and hardship; yet, he always wore a smile to work. Our home was a place of color and life for Gideon amidst relentless and incomprehensible suffering.
A New Treasure
One day, after much prayer, my roommate and I decided it was time to share with Gideon about the hope we found in Jesus. We invited him to watch a film about the life and ministry of Christ. It was the first movie Gideon had ever seen.
As the movie ended, Gideon came looking and found us working inside. A soothing comfort seemed to wash over him as he said, “The words of that man Jesus are worth more than all the money in the world.” His expression of the treasure he had just found declared Christ’s infinite worth in a world where money brought deliverance from incredible pain.
Gideon followed his confession with an even more profound question. “If you knew this,” he said, “why did you not tell me sooner?”
All of a sudden I was reminded that for those who know what it is like to live in true darkness, there is no price too great to pay to receive the Light of Life.
The Price of Freedom
For our dear Muslim background brothers and sisters, the decision to follow Christ is not a simple one. The implications for those who leave Islam are not a matter of inconvenience or embarrassment, but rather life and death.
For many Muslim background believers, accepting Christ comes with a steep price tag. They may be …
- ostracized from community
- denied access to education
- divorced and disowned by family
- lose jobs, face financial ruin
But in the most severe cases they may experience imprisonment, torture, and even death. We wonder how such severe consequences could befall someone who simply desires to follow Christ.
Shortly after Gideon watched the film about Jesus, he decided to give his heart to follow him. Little did he know that only two short weeks later he would be arrested for the one crime that, under Islamic law, could get him killed.
Gideon faced weeks of imprisonment, torture by electrically charged steel cables, and a pending death sentence. The decision to choose life could cause his death, yet Gideon never waivered. Though he found himself in prison, he knew God had set him free through Christ, and ultimately he had gained far more than he could ever lose.
Rewards of Redemption
Gideon’s story is not uncommon among Muslim background believers. For many of them, this is the choice they must make before coming to faith. They must consider death for the sake of Christ, and in doing so, they are truly free to live for Him.
Hidden in their suffering a most precious truth is revealed—one that I jealously seek to embrace in my own life.
The truth is that once we have willingly counted the cost to follow Christ, we realize God’s love and presence is far greater than any cost we could ever count. Really, we pay no price at all, because in the end we get Jesus Himself … and that is all we ever wanted anyway.
Through suffering, these bodies of ours constantly share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may so be seen in our bodies. —2 Corinthians 4:10 NLT