Ibrahim* was a Muslim who lived in Algeria. One day he met a man who told him about Jesus. After meeting with a local pastor, Ibrahim decided to become a Christian.
Afraid of the consequences, Ibrahim didn’t tell his wife and children about his new faith. He knew they would be taken away from him if anyone found out he had become a Christian. “After being a believer for some time, I felt I had to be open about my faith,” Ibrahim said. He decided to tell his father first.
“My father just stared at me and kept silent for about 15 minutes… Then he rose from his chair and gathered all my brothers and sisters. They came to the house and my brothers started beating me. They shouted: ‘You will renounce your faith.’”
Ibrahim’s children begged him to deny Jesus.
“Daddy, daddy, please renounce your Christian faith, return to Islam, so you can always be our father,” they said.
Ibrahim turned to his children, bleeding and bruised. “It was so hard to hear them saying that… But I couldn’t renounce Jesus, I couldn’t renounce my faith. I said to my children: ‘I love you, I love you, but I love Jesus more.’”
Ibrahim’s family threw him out of the house.
For three months, Ibrahim lived with his pastor, studied the Bible and learnt what it looked like to live as a Christian.
Image: The streets of Algiers, the capital of Algeria.
To his surprise, Ibrahim’s father told him to return to his wife and children.
“I was able to rent a house somewhere else, and I found work,” Ibrahim said. “I am so happy that they live with me again.”
Ibrahim’s pastor explained to us what normally happens when Muslims discover Jesus.
“As soon as they have a Bible, they study the Bible,” he said. “There is a lot of suffering, especially for those who lose their family. I sometimes don’t find the words to comfort and encourage them. That is the burden we bear here in Algeria.”
Image: Studying the Bible in Algeria.
Amazingly, we can thank God that Ibrahim is back with his family, and his love of Jesus is as strong as ever. But Ibrahim made an extremely tough choice, and it was one that could have meant his children wouldn’t see him again. Ibrahim’s story offers us a massive challenge – he was prepared to put Jesus before the most precious thing in his life – his children. Such stories raise big questions for us. How much do we really value our faith? Do the words of the songs we sing in church match the life of faith we live?
These are hard questions. It’s unlikely we in the UK will face the same dilemma as Ibrahim, but we’re kidding ourselves if we don’t believe that following Jesus comes at a cost. Jesus said ““If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me (Luke 9:23)”. Ibrahim’s story reminds us that we need to keep putting Jesus first, even if doing so might make life less comfortable.
Are there areas of your life where Jesus doesn’t come first? What are they? What do you need to do or change to switch things up? How will that affect you?
Pray for Ibrahim and his family. Pray that his wife, children, father and brothers will see the truth and love of Jesus in Ibrahim, and pray they would come to faith in Jesus too.
Pray for yourself. Say sorry to God for the areas of your life where you put Him in second place. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you put Jesus first and live out your faith with courage, no matter what the cost.
We support people who are beaten, tortured,
imprisoned, falsely accused, and hated simply for following Jesus.