Jesus in disguise!
As Abdi walked down the crowded street, tired from working 12 hours in a local barber shop, glad to be heading home, some men jumped out of a car and tried to force him into a white Toyota.
He struggled mightily and they all wrestled to the ground where Abdi managed to stay till the attackers, fearing being remembered and identified by the crowd, gave up on the attempted kidnapping and fled. Abdi was left shaking on the ground, now filthy and afraid.
Welcome to Adbi’s life. He fled his home country during unrest and government crack downs on dissenters, that lead to the death of many outspoken men in his village. In Abdi’s country they don’t investigate allegations of government defiance, they just locate the village a dissenter is from and assume he would not be speaking out if he did not have a willing audience. So the whole village is ransacked, men hauled off to jail and sometimes killed. I can’t tell you his country. But now Adbi has started attending our small group meetings on discipleship.
When I first met Abdi, he was clearly distressed. He had come from Islam to Christianity, after fleeing political issues at home. Here in Kenya, he first moved in with a Sheik. Like all good Muslims he attended mosque and observed holidays. I noticed he still had a forehead scar about two inches tall and 1.5 inches wide. The very devout, frequently have this scar from daily prayers observed over many years of performing Salat. Abdi, was a very committed Muslim.
Abdi, moved to Kenya and began to have multiple dreams telling him to get a book and read it. He had no idea which book the dream indicated and tried to ignore it. He finally came to understand that the book was the Christian book of the New Testament. He soon met a Christian that had come from Islam and they began to talk and eventually, Abdi got his bible. After months of reading and testimony from this FMB, former Muslim believer, Abdi went to a traditional Christian church and repented of his sins and was baptized placing his faith in Jesus. Although, Abdi was very quiet about his faith, he closely associated being a Christian with attending worship services at this large church. So, many times a week he walked into this large building, to attend services. Zealous for Jesus, he would go every time he had a chance.
He was smart enough to move from the Sheik and get his own apartment when he got a job as a barber. But before long the Sheik became aware he was attending the church. Muslims set up watchers to position themselves around churches and spied to find Abdi and any other Muslims attending the meetings. Soon, Abdi was spotted and a plot ensued. Abdi, was ambushed and beaten, fired from his job and harassed for four years. He has filed seven police reports, as persecution of Christians, is not allowed in this country. However, according to Adbi, the man in charge of reporting, is Muslim and only a few of the charges have been reported and not “lost”. There has never been an arrest.
Abdi is a wanted man. I already have three safe houses where I put former Muslims in times of danger and we hold meetings in another. Abdi, is now, literally, hiding in a local church building at night sleeping in a classroom. From the first time I met him I could tell you he looked like a man on the run. His eyes darted. His hair was disheveled and he literally looked scared. Abdi has not been discipled. He has just been attending meetings with local congregations and listening. He was given a letter from a well known church in this city asking others to help him. It is common here for a FMB to come to Jesus, enter a local church and be paraded around as a trophy convert. They give their testimony, take up an offering the new convert and even give them a portion of the money. But basically, traditional Christianity here is all about the meetings and the leadership. I am sorry to sound cynical. But I have been here almost 4 years and only know what I see. Of course that is a generalization and I am sure there are some wonderful believers and good churches. But after meeting dozens of leaders, I stand by my observation. Getting a letter from a church asking OTHERS to help Abdi, while spending offerings on “ministers” and buildings is the norm.
I read Abdi’s letter sadly. The body of Christ asking others to give a hand out to Abdi, verifying his multiple attacks and ensuing medical bills and the validity of the police reports, including the willingness to produce the police records as proof. All very bureaucratic. Abdi, is no longer the trophy convert or flavor of the month. So now he is on his own. Thank God he is allowed to sleep in a room at night.
This is life here for many. Yes, we lead Muslims to Jesus and testify and make disciples among the Muslims constantly. But we also get these persecuted saints that are cast aside by the local “church” that has no idea what it means to be the Church. The body of Christ. A mature brother, vetted Adbi for weeks before bringing him to a meeting. Laying the ground work for discipleship, getting to know Abdi and helping him along the way. We have a small fund for such situations, but frankly, we exceed it every single month. There are more Abdi’s. If he continues to prove to be earnestly seeking the Kingdom first, we will take him in. We will disciple him. We will find a home for him and perhaps help him start a business of his own. We may have to relocate him, as being at a store front and visible is very dangerous for him in his current neighborhood. Be that as it may, I would like to give you the opportunity to do what the local traditional church won’t do. That is to help the Abdi’s in our ministry.
We are making disciples of these men and women. We don’t pull them out of the country and send them to a safe place. We train them here and equip them to go to Muslims with the Gospel of the Kingdom of God. To take Jesus to the nation of Islam. We may move them a few miles away to train them, but they will be going right back to the Muslim community. As is the case with all believers, the righteous will suffer persecution. Pray for their safety. Please prayerfully consider helping our Abdi’s. Men and women willing to pay the ultimate price to obey King Jesus. I hope you will prayerfully consider helping Jesus. You see, Jesus said when you help the least of these, the least of these my brethren, you are in fact helping Jesus.
I am surrounded by Jesus, in disguise. Men and women suffering for the Kingdom. Will we be guilty of getting excited when another Muslims comes to Jesus, tell others about the wonderful testimony and the faithfulness in the face of danger, but soon forget and move on to the next great story or testimony, like many local churches? Or will we be different. Will we say, that is my brother, that is Jesus in disguise.
I will stand with the persecuted.