Vision of Christ
In the Horn of Africa the number of Muslims discovering Jesus is growing, despite the cost of following Christ. Alice, an Open Doors worker, travelled to the Horn of Africa and met a Christian who had suffered for Christ.
Hawa* had travelled hours to meet us. She had grown up in a Muslim family. Her father was a Muslim leader who travelled to different Arab countries to teach about Islam. She felt loved by her family and was engaged to a Muslim man who lived in the US. Hawa’s future looked bright.
Everything changed when she contracted a serious lung disease. The doctors feared for her life and all her dreams and plans seemed to disappear. But Hawa was exactly where the Lord wanted her. “One night in hospital I had a dream.” Hawa said to me, “I saw a man who was smiling and crying at the same time. I somehow knew he was weeping for me. I bowed down before him and asked, ‘Please help me. Show me the way. How can I be free from this disease?’”
When Hawa woke up she told her family about the dream, but no one understood it. When she had recovered and returned home, she told the mosque leader about her vision. “What you saw was Jesus, the Messiah.” He said, “I can’t talk now. It is not safe. Come back another time.”
Weeks went by before Hawa had another opportunity to speak to the mosque leader. “The one who is weeping for sinners is the one and only Jesus.” He told her, then he handed her a Bible.
Hawa hid the Bible in her bedroom that she shared with her sister, Zulfa*. “I decided to follow Christ, but no one knew because I continued to go to the mosque and do the required rituals. But my heart was filled with the love of Christ.”
Her Secret Discovered
Later when her family was cleaning out Hawa’s room, they discovered the Bible tucked underneath her pillow.
“My father was furious,” Hawa said. “He threw the book into my face. Then he took a whip and lashed me till I had scars.”
Hawa was locked in her room, only surviving on little bits of food that her mother snuck to her. Her fiancé called off the engagement as soon as he found out about her new faith, and Hawa was kicked out of home. But she refused to deny Jesus.
“The love of the crying man in my vision had penetrated my heart so much that I chose Him.” Hawa said. “The love of Christ was of more value to me than the love of my family.” To Hawa’s surprise, her sister Zulfa decided to come with her. She too had heard enough about the love of Jesus to join Hawa on her journey, despite the suffering.
"I still love them and I have not stopped praying for them. One day they will come to Christ and we will worship Him together, and then all I have lost will come back to me."
The mosque leader took Hawa and Zulfa in for a few days, at a great risk to himself. He taught them about Jesus and put them in touch with other Christians. He also found Hawa a job, but it was barely enough to survive.
“One day when I was walking along the road, my uncle walked toward me” Hawa said. “I was so frightened of him that I tried to cross the road to get out of his way. There was a big construction hole by the road. When I tried to jump over it, I fell into the hole and broke one of the discs in my spine.”
All Hawa and her sister could afford was the advice of a naturopath who told her to stay in bed and make sure she ate enough. The advice almost made her laugh. Hawa and Zulfa barely had enough to eat as it was.
When I met Hawa, she was still in pain from that injury. But she only started crying when she spoke about her sister.
“Zulfa suffered so much because of me.” Hawa said. In order to generate a small income Zulfa started baking flatbread. “She was constantly bent over smoldering fires and her eyes were exposed to smoke and fumes that damaged her eyes so much that she lost some of her sight. We feared the damage would be permanent.”
Your Help Makes A Difference
“Had it not been for the help we received from Christians near and far we would not have survived. My pastor and the believers around me helped me as much as they could. People from far away [Open Doors] also came to me and encouraged me. They continue to help us today.”
Image: Hawa speaking with Alice
Open Doors were able to help Hawa and her sister start a small cafeteria. Business is doing well. The sisters make a decent profit and enough money to look after themselves. We were also able to provide Zulfa with medical care for her eyes.
“She is now recovering, and even started going to school.” Hawa said. “I am so happy that Zulfa didn’t end up blind.”
“The light is increasing day by day.” Hawa said. She even believes her relationship with her family can be restored. Even though she is deeply hurt by the way they treated her, she continues to pray.
“I still love them and I have not stopped praying for them. One day they will come to Christ and we will worship Him together, and then all I have lost will come back to me.”
*Name changed for security purposes.