Recently I received some very disturbing news.
Open Doors contacts inside one of the Muslim-dominated countries where we work (which I cannot disclose for security purposes) sent an urgent message. They asked for prayer for Mona (not her real name), a precious sister who recently converted from Islam to Christianity.
Her family has learned of her decision to follow Jesus. And they are pressing her father to kill her in what is known as an "honor killing."
Throughout the Muslim World, brothers and sisters who used to follow Islam … but now follow Jesus (called Muslim Background Believers or MBBs) … are paying the highest price for their faith. Every day they wake up to the possibility of kidnapping, torture and even death.
Our contacts recently wrote: "They will often lock the believer in a room and starve them for three days. If they still won't recant, they will be systematically beaten to prepare them to face the torture they will experience in hell for leaving Islam. Their nails could be pulled out and their teeth knocked out. They can be tortured with a hot iron to help them understand the fires of hell awaiting them."
Here is another example of what MBBs must go through for putting their trust in Jesus Christ:
Emad had a problem: as a Muslim man in his 30s with a good position as an electrician, his family expected him to marry and have a Muslim ceremony. But Emad was a strong Christian and had been for several years. Like many MBBs, he'd kept his conversion a secret from his Muslim family for fear of what they might do to him. Now where would he find a young Christian woman to marry who would accept a Muslim ceremony?
Fatma was a university graduate who met the Lord through her own research. Her Muslim family became suspicious that she had left Islam, but later decided that she had come back to her senses. Unknown to them, she was a secret believer seeking fellowship with other MBB women.
Emad and Fatma met through friends. They decided to marry and have a Muslim wedding. As newlyweds, they decided to live away from their families to escape their scrutiny.
For two years it seemed they had found a way to avoid dangers faced by many MBBs. But their peace was shattered when suddenly a violent pounding on the door put them face to face with an angry group of fundamentalist Muslims. Emad had been spotted walking out of a church, and the Muslims noticed that Emad did not attend weekly prayers at the local mosque.
The fundamentalists raided their apartment, collecting evidence of their association with the Christian community. They dragged the pair down the street and handed them over to the police. For two weeks, they were separated and subjected to physical and psychological torture. Fatma was raped twice.
They were released, shaken and broken. They had been warned to stay away from Christians. Emad was fired from his job and word spread not to give him any work because he was an infidel. They faced social isolation as well as direct threats to their lives.
Late one night they decided to sneak away, taking practically nothing with them. They moved to a rural community where they were accepted by a number of Christian farmers and permitted to live among them and work in their orchards under their protection.
Emad and Fatma have given up possessions, position, family and security for the sake of following Christ. But their situation is not unique.
In another case of MBB discrimination, Malaysia's highest court on May 30 handed down a decision that prevents Lina Joy, a Muslim convert to Christianity, from having her conversion legally recognized. In a 2-1 majority decision, the Federal Court ruled that the National Registration Department was right in requiring Joy to produce a declaration from the Shariah (Islamic law) court stating that she is no longer a Muslim before it would remove the word "Islam" from her identity card. The ruling comes after a seven-year legal battle to have Joy's conversion officially recognized, according to Compass Direct News.
I am calling you to action on behalf of these suffering brothers and sisters who desperately need our help.
Please pray for them and with them. Just knowing that fellow believers – half a world away – care about their struggles brings immeasurable comfort and encouragement to them. Your prayers give them the incredible strength they need to stand strong amid increasing danger and hostility on every side. Pray specifically that they will keep the faith and not go back to Islam. Pray they will have boldness but also discretion.
Also, pray for their persecutors. Pray that they will be open to talking to MBBs. And that they will experience the love of Jesus Christ.
Dr. Carl Moeller is president/CEO of Open Doors USA