ASHAMED OF JESUS
Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.
~ Luke 9:26 (NIV)
Young believers in the Lord in Muslim cultures often struggle with the issue of publicly declaring their new faith in Jesus. Shadiya is the youngest of five children in a Muslim family. At the age of eighteen she came in contact with a group of young people in the church of Pastor Jamil. During the summer of 2011, the church was visited by a group of other young Christians. During that time Shadiya decided to follow Jesus.
One day she forgot to hide her Bible and her younger brother found it. He asked his father about this striking book with a large cross prominent on the cover. Father was shocked. He soon found out that Shadiya brought the book into their house.
Initially dumbfounded by the hostile attitude of her father, Shadiya stood firm for what she believed. She admitted that she had become a Christian, that she received the Bible from some friends and that she no longer is a Muslim. Her father interpreted this as denying her identity. This, in his opinion, was a betrayal of the entire family and the Muslim community. In other words, the shame for the family was unbearable. So in her father’s eyes there was only one option; force Shadiya to deny her faith in Christ. “If you refuse to deny your new faith, you are no longer welcome in our home!” he yelled at her. Shadiya still held on to faith in Jesus.
The situation deteriorated even more after her father went to the mosque and shared the “apostasy” of his daughter with the local imam. They decided she had to deny her Christian faith openly and confess the Islamic faith in public. If she refused to do so, she would have to pay with her life. She would be stoned by the Muslim community.
She asked her apostate brother-in-law, Amir, for advice. He suggested that she do what they asked of her and remain a secret follower of Jesus. In her heart she could remain a believer in Christ, although she would openly deny her faith to save her life. Shadiya was not really convinced that this was the right thing to do and was full of doubt. In the end she followed the advice of Amir.
The prospect of becoming a martyr at the age of eighteen was now over but Shadiya remained doubtful about her decision. She and Amir asked Pastor Jamil what he thought about it.
“This could have been an opportunity for the whole family or the entire village to see God working in the life of an eighteen-year-old girl,” he replied. “It is a great challenge to deal with our fear; still we should rely on Jesus, rather than basing our choices on fear.”
The situation for Shadiya now seems less tense but the risk of escalation remains.
RESPONSE: Today I will not allow fear to control me…especially regarding the public declaration of my faith.
PRAYER: Pray for Shadiya and the people surrounding her. Ask our Father to further His kingdom through her and fellow-believers who are cautiously trying to help her to grow in faith.