Day 12: Overcoming obstacles, part 1 — Family, familiarity and fear
By Jordan Rowley
, spiritual coordinator, Climbing For Christ
As far back as your mind can take you, you have fond memories of going to church with your parents and siblings. At Sunday School, you sang Christian songs and recited Bible verses. You watched your mom and dad practice their faith, and learned to do the same. They’ve always been devout Christians and would talk to you often about stories from the Bible – especially when you had a problem. It always seemed to help you understand the world a little better.
For your entire life you celebrated holy days like Christmas and Easter by going to church. You even had special clothes to wear. After going to church, the entire family, including grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins would gather together to talk, laugh – and eat. The sights, songs, smells and tastes always bring a sense of familiarity and comfort to your heart.
This is your life. This is where you fit in.
You married another Christian (mom and dad wouldn’t have it any other way). Now you all go to church together. You have a beautiful little baby. You picked a traditional name from the Bible. When they first met your baby at the hospital, your parents whispered the song “Jesus Loves Me” into your newborn’s ear, just as they did when you were a baby. You love your spouse and your child. You greatly respect your parents. You’d never do anything that would hurt them or bring shame to them.
This is your life. This is where you fit in.
For many reading this, some parts of this brief narrative could be pages from your own life story. But now imagine that instead of this being about you as a Christian, it’s about you as a Muslim. Instead of your family bringing you to church, they brought you to the mosque. Instead of stories from the Bible, your parents explained the world through the Qur’an and Hadith. Instead of celebrating Christmas and Easter with special church services and family gatherings, you went to mosque and gathered with family for Ramadan and Eid al-Adha
. Instead of “Jesus Loves Me” being whispered into your baby’s ear, the phrase “there is no god but Allah and Muhammad is the prophet of Allah” is spoken.
Hard as it may be to imagine such a life, in spite of those differences, the feelings of familiarity and comfort would still be deep in your heart. The sense of loyalty and love for your family would be still there. The desire to protect your parents from any harm or shame would remain.
This is a small glimpse into reality for much of the Muslim world.
Counting the Cost
Now imagine giving up all you’ve ever known to follow Jesus! In most Muslim communities, leaving Islam is not only seen as a direct path to hell, it is seen as a betrayal of family and community. Of course, some westernized Muslims may embrace this freedom of choice, but many – if not most – in the Islamic world would be forced to disown a person who leaves Islam. Families are divided, sons and daughters are disowned, friends are separated, jobs are lost, careers are destroyed and even one’s very life may be in jeopardy. All that is familiar, comfortable and safe is gone. You have forsaken Islam. This is referred to as apostasy, or irtidād
in Islam. The description of and ultimate punishment for a murtadd
(Arabic for “one who turns away”) is referred to several times in both the Qur’an and the Hadith.
In the Quran we read, “with the exception of those who are forced to say they do not believe, although their hearts remain firm in the faith, those who reject God after believing in Him and open their hearts to disbelief will have the wrath of God upon them and a grievous punishment awaiting them” (Surah 16:106).
Climbing For Christ met two Muslim background believers from the Middle East attending a Bible study in Indonesia. These men surrendered all for the love of Jesus. (Photos by Gary Fallesen)
“Now brother will deliver up brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death. And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved.” – Matthew 10:21-22
“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” – Romans 8:18
Our Lord Jesus is worth it all! After all, it’s eternity we’re dealing with here. In Matthew 16:26
Jesus said these always sobering words: “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?”
Amen! There is no amount of heartache or hardship that Jesus is not worth!
Today, let’s pray for those who are or will face varying degrees of persecution for walking away from Islam and beginning a walk with Jesus Christ!
- Pray for endurance. That they would not look back at what they’ve lost with longing, but look only to Jesus and all that they’ve gained.
- Pray for fellowship. That they would find strength and courage in the company of other believers who have also endured rejection and oppression.
- Pray for witness. That they would have a bold and beautiful testimony among their family, friends and others, in spite of perhaps being misunderstood and/or mistreated.