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Jesus or Family? The Cost of Following Christ in Niger

 

 

The Incredible Story of Mounira, a Christian Mother Beaten, Divorced and Abandoned for Her Relationship with Jesus

 

By René Benoît and Troy Augustine

 

 

4/7/2015 Washington DC (International Christian Concern) - Do you remember the joy and peace that washed over you the first time you realized that Jesus had forgiven your sins?

 

Think back: The weight of your guilt was lifted and extreme delight in Christ coursed through your soul. Now imagine that because of your decision to follow Christ, your life, your marriage, and your son's safety now teeter on the precipice of being extinguished...by your own family. This is Mounira's story and the story of thousands of Muslims that convert to Christianity in Niger.

Oftentimes, the most trying persecution our suffering brothers and sisters in Christ endure comes from their own brothers, sisters, spouses, fathers, and mothers.

Rejection. Harassment. Murder. These are all words that most would never associate with their earthly families.  Sadly, for Mounira and countless other converts from Islam to Christianity around the globe, persecution inside their own homes is a day-to-day reality.

Mounira is a woman who lives in Niger. She left Islam when she found Christ. As a result, her Muslim family has subjected her to beatings, divorce, and abandonment for choosing Jesus over Mohammed.

Mounira's home country is predominantly Muslim and has become increasingly radicalized as Christians are ever more being targeted for their faith.

Extremist militant groups such as Boko Haram, Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), and the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO) have radicalized many Muslims in Niger. Therefore, many now regularly preach, "Death to Christians," especially to Muslim converts like Mounira.

 Militants belonging to these and other factions regularly intimidate Christians in Niger and have, at times, forcibly converted, abducted, and murdered believers because of their faith. Across Niger, Christians risk losing everything at the hands of Islamic extremists, especially along the country's porous borders with Algeria, Chad, Libya, Mauritania and Nigeria.

Mounira personaly comes from a deeply conservative Muslim family. After Mounira received Jesus, her family abandoned her and her son, Maoulé, leaving them homeless and friendless. Even her own husband rejected her for her faith in Christ. When he would catch her reading the Bible, he would snatch the Scriptures out of her hands and tear them to shreds. On Sunday mornings, he would lock Mounira in her room to prevent her from attending church.

One night, when returning late from work, Mounira's husband beat her to the point of unconsciousness for praying in a corner of the house. Her son, Maoulé, acted quickly.  He immediately called Mounira's pastor, who rushed her to the hospital.

In the face of such barbaric abuse, like countless other Nigerien Christians, Mounira's faith never withered. Mounira clings to verses such as Romans 8:38-39: "For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord" (ESV).

Mounira's unwavering faith outraged her husband. He bitterly divorced her, kicking Mounira and Maoulé onto the streets to fend for themselves.

After the split, Mounira's husband told her Muslim family members about her conversion. Infuriated, they plotted to murder her, even arranging for criminals to go to her house in the middle of the night to beat her to death.

By God's grace alone, on the night the gang broke into her home, Mounira was attending church.

 

Next, her family hired a sorcerer who promised to send a satanic spirit to kill her.  However, the Word of God tells us in Ephesians 6:12-13: "For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm." (ESV)

By faith, Mounira remains safe and perseveres with God's help.

For Christian converts like Mounira, life involves a constant harrowing struggle against those committed to converting them back to Islam, or otherwise hastening their death.

This is why International Christian Concern (ICC) is working with the local church in Niger and other countries to provide relief to persecuted Christians in their time of need. With the support of the global church, ICC provided Mounira and Maoulé with three months of food supplies in addition to buying Mounira her diabetes medication that she had not been able to take for months. ICC also equipped Maoulé with textbooks, notepads, pens, pencils, and erasers, and the fees necessary to enroll him back in school.

Today, Mounira joyfully praises the Lord. While speaking with ICC's Niger representative, Mounira said, "I'm still under threat and pressure because both my family and the one of my former husband are still looking for ways to kill me. However, I rejoice every day in the Lord because he is my strength, my comforter and my protector; I know he will never forsake me. I have gone through much violence and torture from my former husband and moreover my family is making plots to kill me because I'm a Christian, but I lay everything in the hands of God."

By the grace of God, He hears the prayers of His saints for the persecuted Church because, through Christ, we have been granted access to the Father to hear our supplications for those brothers and sisters in need.

 

Psalm 4:1 says, "Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness! You have given me relief when I was in distress. Be gracious to me and hear my prayer!" (ESV). God has shown Himself faithful time and time again by providing for Mounira and Maoulé, having granted them relief in their distress by answering prayers because He is the God of our righteousness.