Ostracized in India
Six Muslim Background Believers (MBBs) and their families in the village of Nutangram in West Bengal, India, are being pressured to relinquish their Christian faith. The Muslim mosque committee called for thousands of villagers from nearby areas to rally against the Christian families on 4 September 2007, as they wanted the families to recommit themselves to Islam. The believers, who came to faith a little more than a year ago, are terrified.
A few days prior to 4 September, the mosque issued a ban against anyone communicating with MBBs. As a result, the MBBs were not sold vegetables, workers did not come to do jobs in their fields and customers did not come to their shops. They were told they would be killed and their homes burned if they did not give up their faith in Jesus Christ.
The extremists stirred up some women to attack one of the Christian women. They physically tortured her, examining her body as they searched for “Christian signs” on her.
Recently, Pastor Bashir and the Khoda-e-Jamat ministry, which reaches out to Christians in the area, was threatened by Muslim extremists. The situation is tense. Pastor Bashir believes that the Lord’s grace will sustain every MBB in Nutangram in these difficult days. He requests prayer that not a single family will give in to the pressure to recant their faith.
Throughout the Muslim World, brothers and sisters who previously followed Islam, but now follow Jesus (MBBs), are paying a high price for their faith. Every day, they wake up to the possibility of:
- Isolation and being disowned by their families, friends and community
- Arrest and torture
- Constant surveillance and threats
Seized by Vigilantes in Egypt
An Egyptian convert now living abroad and tracking reports of overt persecution against Christians in her homeland told Compass News Direct, “The Christians from Muslim backgrounds can’t change their identities, so they are always pushed by the authorities to return back to Islam—or else.”
In an incident in April documented by Compass, a Christian convert couple living in a Cairo district far from relatives was targeted after aggressive Islamists noticed the husband did not attend mosque prayers. Mounting a deliberate watch, the Islamist vigilantes followed the husband until they finally saw him go into a church. Soon afterward, a group of ten men stormed the couple’s home without warning, accusing them of committing “apostasy.” They made a neighborhood spectacle by searching their house and dragging them off to the police station.
There, the wife was raped twice and her husband savagely beaten. When the Islamist vigilantes finally released them a day later, they threatened the couple with prison if they told anyone what had happened.
The husband was subsequently fired from his well-paying job, and local shopkeepers refused to sell them food or other goods. They were eventually forced to move to a remote village, where the husband found work as a day laborer.
A Worldwide Call for Action
We must act on behalf of these suffering brothers and sisters who desperately need our help—whether it is in India, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Nigeria or Pakistan.
Please pray for them and with them. Just knowing that fellow believers around the world care about their struggles brings immeasurable comfort and encouragement to them. Your prayers give them the incredible strength they need to stand strong amidst increasing danger and hostility. Pray specifically that they will keep their Christian faith and not go back to Islam. Pray they will have both boldness and discretion.
Also, pray for their persecutors. Pray they will be open to talking to MBBs. Pray the persecutors will experience the love of Jesus Christ.
MBBs do not ask us to pray God would remove them from the hardships of being a Christian in the Muslim World; instead, they ask us to pray that God would provide opportunities for them to share the gospel. Despite the rise of radical Islam in some countries, there are more reports of Christian converts from Islam than ever before.
The International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church (IDOP) is Sunday, 11 November 2007 (18 November 2007 in some countries). Millions of believers around the world will focus their prayers on persecuted believers, including MBBs.
For information about how your church, small group or Sunday school class can be a part of IDOP, go to www.persecutedchurch.org. Another excellent resource is a new book by Brother Andrew and Al Janssen called Secret Believers (Revell, 2007). For more information on the book and MBBs, go to www.secretbelievers.org.