Rani (not her real name) is a single woman in her forties. She comes from a rural setting in North Africa where the culture is very traditional. Despite her upbringing in a conservative Muslim family, she has become a follower of Jesus.
Recently, her family encouraged her to move into a nearby city where she could find work. At the same time, it was an opportunity for her to have more freedom to study the Scriptures and to meet with other believers. In the city, she came into contact with one of our churches and began to meet with us on a consistent basis. Rani was very enthusiastic about these meetings. It was a great encouragement for her to be a part of a regular fellowship of believers. There was joy in her heart and she was considering the step of baptism.
At the time, however, some of Rani’s co-workers told her older brother that she had become a follower of Jesus. Immediately, her brother called and told her that she needed to come home because her mother was very sick. Rani was unaware that her brother was lying to her, but she left the city and traveled ten hours back to her home to be with her mother.
When she arrived home, her brother took away her phone and her identity card and began to speak harshly to her and beat her. Her whole family came together to oppose her and to scorn her faith in Jesus. Only her mother took Rani’s defense and tried to protect her. However, in the midst of the struggle, her mother had a heart attack and died. The family was in shock.
After burying their mother, Rani’s family blamed her for the mother’s sudden death. Her brother locked her in the house, forbidding her to leave. At one point, however, Rani was able to use the phone of a family member to call a sister in Christ and explain her predicament. Rani told her friend that she had forgiven her brother and she had hope that Jesus would use this situation to bring her family to faith in him.
For two weeks, Rani was a prisoner in her own home. We prayed passionately for her, that she would be encouraged in the Lord and that she would be able to recall Scriptures that spoke of God’s blessing in the midst of persecution. Then we received word from a couple in the church who told us that Rani had returned to the city and was living with them.
Please pray for Rani’s emotional and spiritual health during this time. Pray also for Rani’s family, that there would be forgiveness, understanding and love between them, and ultimately that they would come to know Jesus and trust in him.
As leaders in North Africa, we need your prayers as we deal with this situation and with many others like it where new believers in Jesus are persecuted by their own families.