What It’s Like To Be a Christian in North Africa During Ramadan
Jillian is a good friend of Teri and I. She and her husband are working to spread the gospel in North Africa. I wanted to repost an article she wrote about the challenges Christians face during Ramadan for believing in Christ in North Africa. Please pray for the Christian there and for the work of the gospel to go forward.
It is Ramadan here in North Africa and all over the Muslim world. During Ramadan Muslims fast from sun up to sun down, they also put a huge emphasis on attending the mosque to pray, and reading the Quran.
It is also a month of challenges for Christ followers in these countries. Many followers of Jesus still live at home with unbelieving families. They usually fast out of respect for their families. It is something most are very accustomed to here. Some use the time to focus on Christ and their relationship with Him. A huge challenge comes when families or coworkers all attend the mosque together to pray. This challenge came to my friend’s husband the first week of Ramadan.
The table in the apartment where we have church services was full of all the traditional fast breaking foods just as it would be in all the homes around us. We ate dates, boiled eggs, and many types of sweet breads. We also ate a traditional soup eaten everyday here during Ramadan to break the fast. We had just finish our Sunday service and my friend had worked all day preparing the foods we were eating. My family had been in another city worshipping with some other believers that afternoon. We arrived at the apartment that evening with a few store bought sweets. My friend had worked so hard in preparing everything for the meal there was hardly a space on the table for anything we brought. My friend started attending the church almost 2 years ago after her husband had shared his faith with her. She has been serving the brothers and sisters here ever since!
I sat down to talk to her. I wanted to ask her how her family was doing since her husband had lost his job. He lost his job the first week of Ramadan. He was working in a cafe where he made coffee and tea and waited tables. He received a low wage but he could support his family by working long hours. Their family lives in a very conservative area. Many men wear long beards and you almost never see an uncovered women. The cafe my friend’s husband worked in was in this type of area as well. The call to prayer had gone out from the mezzanine tower in all the mosques. The men hurried off to the mosque to pray. All except my friend’s husband. This started the problem. It turned into a heated confrontation and ended with my friend’s husband being fired from his much needed job. The minute the owner of the cafe heard the word “Christian” he reportedly was irate. He could not imagine that he had been serving his clients coffee and tea made by the hand of a Kafir. He fired him on the spot. For my friend’s husband this was not his first experience with this type of treatment. He lost his previous jobs in the same fashion.
I asked my friend how their family was managing. She smiled and told me they were making due. I noticed however, that their son had been dropped off at the apartment by another relative. Their daughter who is a teenager had been staying with her grandmother. Often when money is tight the kids are sent to visit or “help” other family members until a more stable situation is restored at home.
I listened to her explain that they no longer had running water in their home. They are having to haul buckets up 4 flights of dimly lit, extremely narrow steps. I was humbled thinking of our hot shower and automatic water filter at home.
A few years ago none of this would have happened to them. My friend’s husband had a job, they had running water, they had their families support. Now they have none of that. Yet sitting right before me I can see my friend is happy. When her and her husband come in the door for church they are known for their beaming smilies and the sweet spirit they bring. They are always encouraging the other believers and sharing their faith. My friend’s husband has shared his faith and brought many people to church with him.
They have a strong connection with their pastor and many other church members. My friend gave testimony of how God was providing for them. He even provided money from other church members for her to be able to make all the special treats she loves to make. She was over-joyed watching everyone enjoy them.
There are so many stories like this one. Stories of peace and comfort. Examples of Christians living out victoriously in their suffering. I am always blessed and encouraged when I see that Jesus is enough. He is enough to live for. Those of us who trust in Him know my friends are rich though they are facing a tough trial now. They are triumphant because Jesus is their hope!
Let us continue to pray for these Muslim background believers all over the world who are being challenged this month to live out their faith and be bold for their Saviour!