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Munir’s Request for Baptism

Names have been changed for the sake of privacy and security.


“I want to be baptized,” Munir said to me. 

“Are you sure?” I asked in reply. 

Over the past few months, it has been a privilege for me to walk alongside Munir. Although he is a new believer in Jesus, his faith is growing quickly. Each week, he comes with great questions and it is clear he is reading on his own and maturing as a disciple of Christ. It is also clear that Munir is eager to share his faith with others. 

I explained to Munir that he must be sure about taking this step. “Do you want this, no matter what happens?” I asked him. “People may insult you. People may persecute you.” 

Munir insisted that he was ready. So we began to prepare the details for his baptism celebration the following week. I could see the excitement on Munir’s face.

However, a few days later, after one of our evening meetings for worship, prayer and Bible study, we all left to return to our homes. After some time, I felt that I should call Munir to make sure that he made it home safely. I called many times, and found it very strange that he did not answer. 

Two days later, he called me from a new number and asked if he could meet with me to tell me something important.

When we met, Munir told me that on his way home after the church meeting that evening, he was mugged by a group of men that took his phone and wallet. 

He went immediately to the police station to report the crime. To his surprise, at the police station, the officers said, “We’ve been thinking of you and planning to visit you at your home.” 

The police officers proceeded to take Munir into an office and detain him. After some time, an officer in plain clothes came and interrogated him about his life and his faith in Jesus. “How was your church meeting this evening?” he asked. 

Without being given a reason, Munir was placed in handcuffs and forced to stay at the police station overnight.

Without being given a reason, Munir was placed in handcuffs, taken to a cell downstairs and forced to stay at the police station overnight. They did not register him, nor did they allow him to call his family. The police attempted to intimidate Munir by hitting him and insulting him. He was given absolutely no privacy, not even to use the toilet in his cell. There was a camera on him the entire time. He was unable to sleep. He had no idea what they would do to him. 

The next morning, Munir was taken before the police again for further interrogation. He was shown many pictures of other believers, the location of their discipleship meetings and their church gatherings. They asked him many other questions about national believers and ex-pat believers in the city. 

Munir asked repeatedly, “Why am I being interrogated? I came here only to report that my phone and wallet were stolen.”

The police threatened Munir, telling him they would reveal his faith to his family and friends if he did not agree to work with them and provide information about the church in the city. They even asked Munir to sign a statement, indicating that I was the one who shared the Gospel with him and led him to faith in Christ. 

He refused to sign the statement and continued to ask, “Why am I being interrogated? I am only here to report a crime.” 

When they saw that he would not cooperate with them, the police finally allowed him to file the report. However, they did not give him the paperwork that would be required to officially register the theft or to replace his national identification card.

When I met with Munir, he was clearly shaken. But as I shared with him about my own experiences of suffering and persecution and the stories of many other believers who have faced similar challenges in our country, he was encouraged. 

Finally, I asked Munir, “Do you still want to continue to gather with the church? Do you still want to be baptized this week?” 

Munir answered with confidence, “Yes, I am ready to die with Christ!” 

Motivation in the Face of Opposition

When I recently met online with a group of our leaders across North Africa, we were looking back on the past year and commenting about how much growth we’ve seen in our churches and also how much opposition we’ve faced. Fruitfulness and persecution have gone hand in hand.

I was so encouraged to hear the different leaders talk about the importance of embracing confrontation with enemies as an opportunity to love them, to not repay evil with evil but

to repay evil with good. All of these leaders have faced persecution from fellow Muslims, and most of them have faced it from family members and close friends. Yet none of them were ready to back down from this opposition. On the contrary, they have all witnessed how people have come to faith in Jesus as a result of bold and loving confrontation. Each of them takes very seriously the command of Jesus to love their enemies and to do good to those who persecute them.

What motivates these believers in North Africa who daily face persecution?

It is the love of Jesus. They know that Jesus loves them, and they know that it is only the love of Jesus that will win the hearts of their friends and family members.

By Nasser al’Qahtani, Regional Team Leader for

North Africa and the Middle East

 

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