News / Thoughts

Updates, ideas, reflections and articles from Open Doors and our friends 
News / Thoughts

On the run because of Jesus

When eighteen year old Hayat Hussein called out to Jesus in her sleep, her strict Muslim father responded by tying her up in ropes and threatening to kill her. Hayat has now been on the run since last November.

Hayat is from from a devout group of Ethiopian Muslims, the Harari tribe of Jegol. Hayat’s conversion to Christianity is truly miraculous.

Trained as a devout Muslim in the Koranic School, Hayat’s family expected that she would be a model student of Islam. The family takes great pride in their rich local and regional Islamic heritage. Harar was the Islamic research and training centre in East Africa for millennia and is still home to countless Koranic schools.

Conversion to Christianity within Hayat’s tribe would inevitably be life threatening. Success in outreach to this tribe is rare – there is only one small and marginalized Evangelical Church in Harar.

To the discomfort of her teachers, teenage Hayat began to ask questions about “the prophet Isa” (Jesus). They warned her about being overly inquisitive. When news of this inappropriate curiosity reached her father, he determined to send her to Saudi Arabia for more intensive Islamic schooling.

Hayat refused. Determined to know more about Jesus, she believed Christians could help her and quietly organised a way to meet them. She left her parent’s house and with the help of her unsuspecting friends, found a job in a barbers shop.

When a Christian visited the shop, she secretly revealed her desire to go to church; she was taken soon after and there received Christ as her Saviour! Hayat was so excited to attend church and learn about Jesus, but the real battle for her life and faith was just about to begin.

Her family soon discovered where she was working and brought her back home, unaware she had become a Christian. She then fell ill, and whilst in a fever Hayat began to pray Christian prayers. She called out the Name of Jesus to save her.

Shocked, her father searched her mobile phone and found some Christian songs and an audio Bible. He restrained and threatened her and hastened his plan to send her to Saudi Arabia.

Refusing to give up hope, Hayat decided to try and escape from the house, and sought help from Christians. Hayat’s father is relentlessly searching for her, using her friends to try and uncover her hiding place. The danger is far from over.

Hayat is happy for now to have escaped, and her main priority is to receive Bible training and learn more about her Saviour.

“I want first to know more about Jesus and then would like to return back to my family and friends to share with them about Him,” she says with astounding courage. “I would not be ashamed to die after doing that.”

The amazing fervour of Hayat’s new found faith is inspiring and church leaders are making all efforts to ensure she gets more Bible training. But they lack the resources for continued support…

As the threats from Hayat’s father continue, she remains determined to grow in her faith despite the opposition. She is grateful for all the support given by her Christian friends, but longs for freedom. “I do not want to be a burden for anyone,” she says. “I want to be self-supportive and free to focus on my life with Jesus.”

For now, she has no other option than to rely on the generosity of her new faith community. To ensure her continued safety, church leaders have more recently sent her to another town for shelter.

Where is Ethiopia?

What to pray for…

  • Pray that Hayat may remain hidden, and ask God would protect the Christians who have taken her in.
  • Pray that the church and Hayat receive all the resources and support needed to increase her knowledge and understanding of the Scriptures and that God may use her as an amazing witness among her Muslim friends and family.

We support people who are beaten, tortured,
imprisoned, falsely accused, and hated simply for following Jesus.