The Christians in one Muslim region are working hard in recent days to support their brothers and sisters who have been imprisoned for their faith. Though scattered because of current persecution, they send cryptic messages through social media and text apps and try their best to keep each other informed. Many of these believers live in different cities or even countries.
In the last six months, their messages often speak of the rise of persecution and how to care for those in prison. Thirteen among one people group—that IMB workers know about—have recently been jailed.
One national couple was arrested last year for openly sharing their faith. The wife had recently given birth and was led to prison with her newborn. Separated from her husband, she was expected to care for herself and the infant in a dirty prison cell. Days turned into weeks and then into months as authorities used the time to find evidence against them.
Her husband underwent regular beatings, and not just at the hands of guards. IMB workers explain that it’s not unusual for authorities to bring in family members to try to persuade a believer to recant their faith in Christ and turn back to Islam. Families often spew rejection and hatred toward the individual and will add physical beatings to the emotional abuse. The shame they say brought to them by the family member choosing to follow Jesus is great.
The goal of the government and the family is the same—to stop the spread of Christianity.
This couple was brought to trial and shortly after deported to another country. For the believing community, the work to protect and provide for their brothers and sisters is a high priority, though challenging since they cannot meet or openly discuss current circumstances. When the couple was forced to leave their home country, they faced many challenges, including being reunited with their other two children who were not imprisoned with them.
Their faith community worked to provide trusted transportation and a safe location. Putting themselves at risk, they brought their children to them and helped the couple with post-trauma care and emotional support. These situations have been much too common lately, but even in these dark circumstances, God continues to be glorified.
“Out of those we know who have been arrested recently, 100% have refused to renounce their faith,” said one worker.
This commitment energizes the national believers, and they have been able to provide support for each other, though they are also daily at risk of arrest and persecution.
“For all of these people, they are in prison for being faithful to share the gospel,” another worker emphasized.
“The persecuted church is persecuted for doing what God wants us to do. These brothers and sisters who have been incarcerated over these last six months have modeled that in a really healthy way.”
Ways to pray for this people group:
Pray for the believers who are currently in prison. Ask God that they will remain steadfast in their faith and will find favor with authorities.
Thank God for the response of His church in this area, who put themselves at risk to care for each other.
Ask God to break through the barriers to sharing His truth in this region and for His glory to shine above the darkness of persecution.
For more resources on how to pray for the persecuted church, visit imb.org/persecuted.
Leslie Peacock Caldwell is managing editor for the IMB.