Rania* grew up in a devoutly Muslim community near Cairo, Egypt. Becoming a Christian has endangered her – but she knows it is the best decision she ever made.
She says: “If I would show you my face, this could cost me my life.”
Growing up, Rania was taught to wear strict Islamic clothing as a teenage girl and, later, as a woman: “From an early age I was told that my purpose was to get married, have children and satisfy my husband. I didn’t feel like I had much value.”
Rania did get married, and had a son. She did not feel close to her husband Sameh*, and she was horrified when he chose to follow Jesus. Everything she’d heard about Christians was bad. “My husband came to Christ first; I did not like it at all,” she says. “I had always learned that Christians were dirty and that converting to Christianity was a sin.”
Image: Street scene in conservative part of Egypt
Things changed when their son became very sick. He was so ill that Rania and Sameh were worried that he would die. “My husband prayed for him – I didn’t think much of it”. But God was working.
“As my husband was praying, my son suddenly stopped shivering and his temperature went back to normal!” This miraculous healing would have been wonderful enough – but God also sent the young boy a vision that changed the life of his family. “My son opened his eyes and told us: ‘I saw Christ on the cross looking at me, and He called me, saying: “Child arise”’,” Raina remembers. “I couldn’t stand on my legs anymore. I fell down, kneeling next to my husband crying and thanking this God I never knew. At that very point I gave my life to Jesus.”
Raina knew that openly being a Christian in her community would be extremely dangerous for her and her family. “We were living in a strictly Muslim village,” she says. “From the outside nothing had changed: I couldn’t stop wearing my veil all of a sudden. Converting to Christianity is seen as a shame for the family, something that fanatics say should be forbidden. If we wanted to live, we had to become secret believers.”
Egypt is number 35 on the Open Doors World Watch List, and converts from Islam face enormous pressure from their families to ‘re-convert’. The state also makes it impossible for new believers to get any official recognition of their conversion.
“If you’re a secret believer in a family, that family is your first church. Sameh and I do Bible study together, share about Jesus with our children, and pray together. It’s a journey. We were never very close [before my conversion]; now we are learning what it means to support each other in marriage.
“The things I learned about myself ever since I was young – harmful things – are engraved deep into my soul: ‘You have no value, you have to hide yourself’. It takes time to fully let go of those convictions.”
Part of this new understanding of her identity in Christ comes from seminars by Open Doors local partners that are run for women, particularly for women from a Muslim background, many of whom have faced discrimination for their gender because of the culture they live in.
“The women’s seminars were so helpful for me,” says Raina. “The sisters helped me to overcome the traumas of my past and God Himself told me that I am of value, that I am in fact His beloved daughter!”
Looking to the future
Despite the difficulties she and her family are facing, Raina is passionate about supporting other believers who’ve converted from Islam. She is now able to do that, thanks to support and training from Open Doors local partners: “Recently, a new chapter in our story started: we now have a discipleship group in our home, a house church,” says Raina.
“Please pray for us if you read this. Changing everything in life was not an easy step, but God was supporting us all the time and we were able to move on. We decided as a family that we will not give up. God is good.”
Please join Raina in these prayers, and ask that other women who are persecuted for their faith and vulnerable because of their gender would be seen, heard and empowered to reach their God-given potential.
Use these prayer points:
1. Order our new 2023 World Watch List interactive prayer map…
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