ETHIOPIA — When Ethiopian Daniel*, a staunch follower of Islam, came across a Bible, he decided to read it only so that he could disprove it. But encountering the gospel led him to convert and start following Jesus – and experience persecution from his family.
*Name changed for security reasons.
“People noticed me going to church. People who knew my father and people with whom I’d studied in the mosque, those with whom I’d gone to high school and even my friends. They all knew about it at once. They went to the mosque and discussed how to exclude me. How to isolate me. They asked my father what they should do to me. In anger he decided, ‘Where you find him, kill him.’”
Daniel’s life was under threat and he was cut off from his old community. But as a new believer he had not yet befriended other Christians either.
“So there was nobody to help me to decide what to do. I simply fled to the forest. In the forest where I fled to there were wild animals like hyenas and other dangerous creatures. It was a very dangerous place. I hardly slept. The only food I found to eat were wild greens. It was a hard time. I drank water using my hands because I had nothing to drink from. Even now, it is still difficult for me to talk about.”
Daniel managed only one week there before deciding to return to the city despite the risks. He found refuge in a church, but one day he went out and was surrounded by a mob.
“I saw people gathering around me. One of them said, ‘This person has insulted our prophet Mohammed, kill him.’”
But Daniel outsmarted the mob by drawing them into a theological discussion that turned one against another.
“One man accused another man of blasphemy and he hit him with a machete. The man started bleeding from his head. The mob that was organized to kill me turned into a street fight among themselves. I ran and escaped.”
Daniel had never said goodbye to his mother, so one day he went to visit her. Only a warning from an old friend helped to escape another attempt on his life.
“My father decided to burn down the house while I was inside. All of my brothers agreed. Then they sent people to carry out the plan. These things were decided with the full knowledge of my mother.”
Now realizing the full extent of his family’s hostility and the danger to his life, Daniel decided that the only solution was to move to a safer location. There he found a local church who connected him with Open Doors partners. The supported him to study nursing so that he could make a fresh start.
“Your organization paid my school fees for four years. I graduated from nursing school with very high grades and I found a job within three months of graduation. That is something very rare. It is not only my success – but your organisation’s success and I would like to thank you.”
About Open Doors UK
For over 60 years, Open Doors has worked in the world’s most oppressive countries, empowering Christians who are persecuted for their beliefs. Open Doors equips persecuted Christians in more than 60 countries through programs like Bible & Gospel Development, Women & Children Advancement, and Christian Community Restoration.