MIDDLE EAST — *Taher and his family were secret believers in a closed country in the Middle East. When their faith was discovered, Taher was arrested and ruthlessly interrogated by the secret police – but he refused to give up the names of fellow believers.
In many other countries in the Middle East, worshiping in public or sharing your faith openly is dangerous. So many Christians choose to keep their faith secret and worship in isolation. That’s particularly true of Christians from a Muslim background, like Taher and his family. If their faith is discovered, they are likely to receive long prison sentences for ‘crimes against national security’.
Even though Taher refused to deny Jesus he was eventually released from prison. But after his release the secret service followed Taher and his family everywhere. He couldn’t find a job and the regular harassment became overwhelming. Eventually, they decided to leave their country. Now the family are refugees in Turkey – though they hope to return home one day, to keep telling the good news of Jesus to their community.
“The guy at the door told me he was the postman. When I opened the door he put his feet in the doorway so I could not close the door or do anything. He told me that they had a warrant to search my home and he asked for my husband.”
When Donya’s husband Taher* returned home, the secret police were waiting for him. As a Christian from a Muslim background in the Middle East, Taher’s faith made him a target. He was arrested and pressured to give up his friends’ names.
“They took me to a cell block that was filled with murderers and dangerous criminals. He asked me ‘Do you want your wife and children in there?’ In this way he was telling me that I had to cooperate with them and I had give them all the names of my Christian friends. But I refused to do so. I felt Jesus beside me. And this verse from scripture kept coming to my mind:
‘God is my rock, He is my salvation.’
Even when Taher was tortured and threatened, he and Donya stood firm in their faith.
“I told him ‘If they want you to deny Jesus, I don’t want you to do that.’ He said ‘there would be bad consequences. Will you be with me until the end?’
“I said ‘Until the end – but we will not deny Jesus in any shape or form. If it gets worse, we are going to stick together through everything. We prayed together down in the courthouse. We asked the Lord for His will and strength, so that we may receive it. We also prayed for the officials in the courtroom who were sentencing us for their hearts to be touched and softened.”
Taher was freed and courageously went straight back to telling others about Jesus. But his whole family was still in danger, so they took the costly decision to flee their homeland.
“For Jesus it’s just a small price, because He gave up everything He was.
“I would give even more and it would still be worth it.”
*Name changed for security reasons.
About Open Doors UK
Open Doors is a non-denominational mission that supports persecuted Christians in over 70 countries where Christianity is socially or legally discouraged or oppressed. In their work, they provide vital support, training, and resources to those facing persecution or discrimination.
Resources that they provide include distributing Bibles and literature, running leadership training, assisting with socio-economic development and intercessory prayer. They also help victims of violence and disaster, including widows and orphans, with practical support such as relief aid, livelihood support, and community development projects.
Their vision is of a world in which every Christian who is persecuted is remembered and supported by other Christians. They pray for a world where there is no persecution.
Source: Global News Alliance, Middle East ‘Secret Believer’ Refuses to Deny Jesus