Leaving Islam in Saudi Arabia is punishable by death. While no Christians have been executed for leaving Islam by the Saudi authorities in recent years, some have been handed over to their relatives and vanished, never to be heard from again. Leaving Islam is seen as a great source of shame to families and communities in this strongly Islamic nation.
Because persecution against Christians is so serious in Saudi Arabia, it is estimated that there are more Saudi Christians outside of the country than within it – many feel they have no choice but to flee. And yet, there are Muslims in Saudi Arabia who are risking their lives to follow Jesus. One of them is a man we’ll call Mohammed* – he came to faith just this year.
Mohammed had begun to question his faith in Islam, and one day he decided to put it to the test. He had been taught that missing even one of the five prayers that strict Muslims perform each day would cause him immediate misfortune. “So I decided to stop praying for just one day and see what would happen,” Mohammed says.
“Nothing bad happened. On the contrary, I had an amazingly successful business day. So I tried not praying for an entire week. It was one of the most successful weeks in my career as a businessman. Then I knew for sure that something was wrong. Either something was wrong in my head, or the book I had been believing in was wrong.”
Using his smartphone, he found an online discipleship course that is supported by Open Doors, and learned about the foundations of Christianity from the Bible. Eventually, he made contact with some Christians in another country in the Middle East through a Christian website aimed at the Arab world. He sent them a message saying: “I know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. Can I visit you? Please take me to church and give me a Bible.”
The team who received his message invited him to come and visit them in their country, and within days he had arrived. They took him to a church for the first time, and during the Arabic service he felt his heart filling with joy. In the week that followed, Mohammed joined every Bible study meeting available, sometimes up to four a day, and spoke a lot with the pastors.
After a few days one of the pastors asked Mohammed: “Mohammed, who is Jesus for you?”
He responded: “He is my Saviour, my God.”
A few days later, Mohammed was baptised in front of his new brothers and sisters in Christ. The next day he returned to Saudi Arabia, a newborn Christian carrying his most precious possession home—his Bible.
Not long after returning from his ‘business trip’, Mohammed’s wife found his Bible in his study, and demanded to know what it was.
Mohammed explained to her that it was given to him during his recent visit, and that he wanted to read it as the Quran names the Bible as one of the holy books of Islam. After listening to his explanation, his wife asked him: “When you are finished with the Bible, can I read it too?”
If the authorities in Saudi Arabia, or even his family, find out about Mohammed’s faith in Christ, his life could be in danger. For now, Mohammed’s wife and children don’t know about his new faith, and he has not met a single fellow believer in Saudi Arabia. The Christians he met with in another country will continue to disciple him over the internet.
*Real name known to God
We support people who are beaten, tortured,
imprisoned, falsely accused, and hated simply for following Jesus.