27 July 2015
Maryam*, is a secret believer in the Middle East. She decided to follow Jesus after going to a house church with her aunt.
Recently she joined with other believers at an Open Doors discipleship training programme held at a secret location.
Like all the others in attendance, Maryam has had to take precautions because of her faith. She left her government controlled job. "Much too dangerous," she says. "At that time I worked in a job that was state controlled. Every time they gave us questionnaires that we should fill out, and one of the questions is about religion. Of course you have to fill out: 'Muslim'. But I could not do that anymore."
"Now I am working part time with some small companies, who are not asking about faith."
Because of her previous job, she does not know if she is under observation by the secret police. "I have to be careful, they are able to kill me," she says. "Sometimes people are killed, sometimes they have to leave the country. Maybe, if they catch me, I will be killed. But this week of training took away my fear."
'HIS LOVE CHANGED MY LIFE'
In Maryam's country, religious freedom is heavily restricted.
"There is no other way to live than like a Muslim. You have to study the Quran. I did not feel anything about Allah in my heart. I did not feel joy, did not have good contact with God, but I longed for that. Because of that, I stopped studying the Quran."
"What I heard there about Jesus, I did not like it at all," she remembers, "but inside of me something happened. I wanted to continue with the love of Jesus and I started to like going to that church."
The more she learned about the Bible and about Jesus, the more she understood the good news. "I was able to understand the Bible, I saw the good Lord of the Bible, saw His love - that changed my life."
Fortunately, Maryam's family don't mind that she goes to church. "Neighbours are the problem," she says. "The government tells on radio and TV that if you know a person that is not dedicated to the government or to Islam you should go to the police and tell them - when you suspect someone of being a Christian."
A PASSION FOR JESUS
Now, with the help of Open Doors, Maryam has embarked on a series of discipleship training courses. Some of these are over the internet, but one is based at a secret location where believers can meet face to face. "The course on location is very good," she says.
After the training seminar she wants to teach the course to others. "I want to share and give love. My dream after this training is to have house groups with my family members, friends and colleagues to teach them."
The Open Doors worker who met Maryam was very positive about this young, dedicated woman. "She has a passion for Jesus and a heart that is willing to learn as soon as possible all the things she needs in life and for her life as a Christian."
SAY 'YES' TO SUPPORTING SECRET BELIEVERS IN THE MIDDLE EAST
When a Muslim becomes a Christian in the Middle East, they can face incredible pressure to return to Islam. You can help them to continue in their walk with Jesus by:
- Praying. An Open Doors worker says of Maryam: "We have to surround her in our prayers. Please pray for Maryam."
- Giving. £15 could provide a Muslim background believer with a Bible and the discipleship training they need to remain strong in their faith.
- Holding a Secret Church meeting. Help your church to identify with secret believers by worshiping with the world's hidden Christians.
*name changed for security reasons