Ministry partners share the stories often. Christians are harmed for their faith. Ostracized. Arrested. Beaten. Even killed.
But what about the people behind the headlines? They are amazing, resilient disciples of Jesus. They are spouses, parents, sons, and daughters. They are working hard to provide for their family while trying to grow in their faith and share the Gospel.
They keep believing, keep witnessing, and keep hoping, despite their circumstances. They are the persecuted, but they are blessed.
For years, Munira was a practicing Muslim in Tanzania. She was one of many wives in a family of polygamists. There was discord between Munira and the other wives in her family. One of them even worked with a witchdoctor to try and curse her. Munira was so miserable she became suicidal, once drinking poison to try and end her life.
Her neighbor, a Bible League-trained pastor, invited her to church, and she joined a Bible League Project Philip Bible study. From that point on, her life changed. “While going through the studies, the Word of God revealed the truth to me that only Jesus can give me peace and set me free,” she says.
Now, as a believer, Munira is alone. Her entire family disowned her because of her faith. “Everyone in my family was against my decision to follow Christ,” she says. But she remains hopeful. “I will convince my children and other family members who are still Muslims to join Project Philip groups. I believe the Word of God will change their lives, and they will become followers of Christ.”
Alemayehu experienced Christ through a supernatural healing. He and his siblings were sick with a mysterious illness, a spiritual attack brought on by their parents’ worship of an evil spirit. Three of his sisters died in the span of a month.
A church leader in his village came to pray over Alemayehu’s family and shared the Gospel with them. Alemayehu and his older sister accepted salvation that day. “From that day on, I started to recover from my illness,” he says. “Later I was completely freed in Jesus’ name.”
Through his transformation, the Lord opened the hearts of Alemayehu’s family. Today, they are all believers, except for one brother. He speaks candidly of the horrific things he faces as a Christian in his community in Ethiopia. “The biggest challenge being in a Muslim-dominated area is the persecution of those who follow Jesus. This includes beatings, death threats, being chased from your home, being abandoned by the community, and complete loss of your social standing,” he says.
He continues to grow in faith through Bible League’s Project Philip Bible studies, and now he is a light to other young men in his community. “After being involved in a Project Philip Bible study, my life was changed,” he says. “I embraced humility instead of vengeance. I learned to forgive others and maintain peace.” Such powerful words of peace spoken from a man living in chaos just for his faith.
Ledio was just 15 when he heard the Gospel. He is a member of the Roma community in Albania, and most of his family members are Muslims.
The Roma community is one of the most under-served groups in Albania. Originally from India, they settled in Albania in the 15th century. Today, many Romas are uneducated and unemployed. Often, several families live together because of dire economic circumstances. Drug and alcohol addictions are prevalent. Local churches reach this group with the Gospel through serving them. Churches provide meals and classes, even emergency aid after natural disasters. They also host large community events; Ledio heard about Jesus at a concert hosted by a local church.
After the concert, he accepted Jesus as his Savior and began reading God’s Word. But he had to do it in secret because his family was against his new faith. He would hide to read his Bible and attend church when his parents weren’t home. He didn’t know how his parents would react to his new faith, and his instincts were right. When his father found out, he forbid Ledio to attend church.
Believers in the Roma community are often persecuted by their families, especially women and girls. Physical violence is common. Family members feel that when someone becomes a Christian, the new believer is betraying their family and Muslim traditions. Women and girls will be forced into arranged marriages with Muslim men so they cannot continue to practice their faith.
But believers continue to attend church and grow in faith. Praise God! Because of Ledio’s persistence and the kindness of the local church, Ledio’s parents are now open to Christianity and have begun to read the Bible with him.
For most of his life, Krishna had never heard of Jesus. His parents were devout Hindus in India and worshipped deities daily. He hoped to make his parents proud and help them financially, so Krishna got his education. He traveled to find work, but his difficult job as a construction worker didn’t provide enough money to pay for his daily needs, certainly not enough to send money home.
A Bible League-trained church planter introduced the Gospel to Krishna while he was living away from home for work. At first, he showed no interest, but the Lord continued to work in Krishna’s heart.
“I’m so glad God touched my life,” he says. “I was against anything that did not conform to my beliefs and traditions.” He accepted Jesus and became a dedicated student in a Project Philip Bible study.
When he returned home, Krishna shared the Gospel with his family. He was met with severe resistance. His family tried to force him to recant his faith, but Krishna refused. His father became violent and beat him, then forced him to leave their home.
Krishna now has a steady job and attends church regularly, but sadly he has not reconciled with his family. “My life went through a lot of ups and downs,” he says. “Now I can see God shaping my life. He has filled me with joy.”
Robert (third from left) is a pastor and a government employee in India. He was raised in a nominal Christian home but didn’t hear the true Gospel until he was 30 years old. “I always considered myself saved even though I did not know Jesus and had not had any experience of salvation,” he says. But once he learned about true salvation, he gave his life to God and became a dedicated servant of Christ.
In 2018, Pastor Robert enrolled in Bible League’s Church Planter Training to learn how to continue sharing the Gospel in his community. His church implemented Project Philip Bible studies and he has watched his attendance grow ever since. Church members began preaching the Gospel to family and friends, and now several small Bible studies are happening across his village. Even non-believers are asking for Bibles and Bible study materials.
Everywhere he goes, Pastor Robert starts prayer meeting groups. But his passion for sharing the Gospel is met with backlash. Locals began reporting him to the government, saying a government official was involved in forced religious conversions. In India, strict anti-conversion laws often hinder evangelism efforts like those of Pastor Robert. Several times, he has had to present his case in court, proving that he is not forcing his religion on any of the meeting participants. If he is ever found guilty, he could be jailed. He is risking his livelihood and his freedom for Jesus.
Pray for Strength
So often, the stories on the news gloss over the true reality of being a believer in an area opposed to Christianity. Let’s join in prayer for these individuals, for the people who are endangered, abandoned, ridiculed for their faith.
Pray for the families of the persecuted, those who are left behind when a father is jailed or who have a front-row seat to seeing a parent being beaten for their faith. Pray also for those doing the persecuting, that God would soften their hearts and turn their souls to Him.
These brave believers are not alone. They are members of the body of Christ, and we stand with them.