Growing up as a Sufi Muslim in Senegal, Western Africa, Assane* kept the traditions of his community with the rest of his family. However, when he heard the Gospel for the first time and began to read the Scriptures in his heart language, he knew he had to make a change, whatever the cost. His decision cost him dearly.
When an eager pastor invited Assane to visit his church, he decided to take the risk and go along. Visiting Christian worship services is not what happens in small communities where more than 94% of the population is Muslim. Everyone sees. Everyone knows. Everyone remembers.
“I willingly and gladly accepted Jesus into my life as my Lord and Saviour. After this prayer I felt a great joy in my heart—joy that I had never felt before!” he says, his gleaming white teeth contrasting his dark skin. “In this great joy, I took the courage to tell my family that I will now follow Jesus.”
However, his family, especially his parents, didn’t share Assane’s joy.
“My family was in great anger and since that day, I have been rejected by all my family and friends. My parents persecute me, threatening me with death. I tell them all the time that I am prepared to die for Jesus who is my Saviour,” says Assane. He is well acquainted with what happens in traditional Muslim families when a son or daughter leaves the tight community of the Sufi brotherhoods and identifies themselves with another faith, another prophet, another community and another way of life.
Assane’s mother has threatened to commit suicide if he doesn’t return to Islam. His parents have asked the son of the Imam of the local mosque to befriend him and accompany him everywhere he goes, just to monitor what he is doing.
“I have covered my New Testament and the Bible study booklets with a newspaper so nobody will see what I am reading in order not to attract the anger of my Muslim friends,” he explains.
“I am deprived of meals, frustrated, and insulted. The persecution is so intense you cannot imagine. But as I continue to read my New Testament, I am reassured of my salvation and I experience peace in my heart. I spend a lot of time reading the Bible and this gives me the strength to continue to believe in Jesus,” says Assane. “I thank Jesus for my salvation. I love Jesus and I believe in Him with all of my heart.”
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*His name is changed for security reasons.
Praise God that even where it is hard to follow Jesus, people are hearing God’s voice and following Him.
Pray for Assane and others in similar situations that they will be strengthened in their faith.