Young Christian Convert in Kenya Disowned by Family and Stripped of Possessions
By Nathan Johnson
11/21/2017 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – “Islam was a yoke to my heart. I felt as if I was forced to believe in things that were a heavy burden to carry. So three weeks ago, I yielded to the call of God and put my faith in Christ Jesus,” declared Rahma. “It’s as if a load has been lifted off my back… [even though] my conversion to Christianity has made my family view me as a kafir (infidel) and they have chased me out of the house.”
Rahma, 21, was raised in a Muslim family of eight and was required to pray five times each day. Her parents wanted to raise children who would faithfully adhere to the Quran and Muhammad’s teachings. Over time, Rahma began questioning the burdensome practices although her siblings did not have the same questions. Rahma would often forget to pray, which attracted discipline from her strict father. In 2001, her mother died and she was left with their father who could not endure Rahma’s mediocre Muslim practices. He sent Rahma to her aunt’s house where he hoped that someone else could communicate the importance of a devout Muslim lifestyle. But that did not help Rahma.
“Living with my auntie and cousins in Mombasa got even worse because in the house we had two rooms dedicated for prayers; one for the men and the other for the women. As if this was not enough, my uncle employed a sheikh to help me grow in the ways of Allah. This went on for some weeks and I could not continue with the lessons because I could not understand anything. The sheikh gave up on me and this upset my family very much. A new level of war had just begun.”
Rahma’s eagerness to know about Christianity grew every day, especially in 2016, when she began sneaking out to attend church services and seek guidance from some of her Christian friends. Last December, she attended an overnight prayer session in one of the churches in Mombasa and received some tracts about knowing God.
“When I returned home in the morning, my auntie disciplined me after learning that I was in church. She insulted me before my cousins and affirmed that she will never give me permission to [leave] the house. That week she gave me $30 to start a small home-based beauty business. My desire to become a Christian was gaining momentum as well as having a very strong dislike for Islam, but I wanted to know exactly what Christianity is all about and who could understand me and help me change my faith.”
For the first half of 2017, Rahma said that she tried to maintain appearances with her family in order to survive. She performed the routines, but in her heart she wanted to be free to believe in a faith that is based on grace and nothing more. Amina, her friend, knew that Rahma was no longer interested in Islam and had stopped reciting the shahada. Rahma told Amina that she was ready to talk to a Christian who could answer some questions she had. Amina knew a pastor named John Magenge who has worked in evangelism and discipleship among Muslims for years. This marked a turning point in Rahma’s journey to discovering Christianity and experiencing a newness of life in Christ.
ICC talked to Pastor Magenge about Rahma. He said, “When she came to see me in October, I knew that she had already overcome some obstacles to Muslim evangelism. She was ready to put her faith in Christ, publicly testify of her new faith and maybe get baptized. And so I interrogated her desire to become a Christian and yes, she had valid reason to be helped in the Christian faith. She has been growing tremendously and we have put her into mentorship that involves Bible reading, prayer and fellowship.”
Though she has found some support, life for a Christian convert can be difficult, even in primarily Christian nations such as Kenya. Once a Muslim family finds out that a family member has converted to Christianity, they wish to break all ties. This was the case with Rahma.
On October 29, 2017, Rahma woke up at dawn to read a small Swahili Bible she had received from John. Her auntie noticed the light from her room and came in to see why Rahma was up at this time. “I was deep in reading and meditation when my auntie knocked, opened the door to my room and found me doing my devotion. She was so mad at me and asked me when I started bringing Bibles into her house. I gathered my courage and told her that I had given my life to Christ. She was struck by a hard reality and shock, and everybody in the house was awakened to come and hear what I just said. I reiterated that I had given my life to Christ and I am ready to continue in the Christian faith because there is eternal life in God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.”
At the time of ICC’s interview, Rahma has been completely rejected by her family. They do not want to be associated with her because she is seen as a disgrace to their community. According to Sharia law, she is now an apostate. Her family took Rahma’s possessions including her telephone, clothes and shoes. She is currently living with her friend, Amina, in Mombasa and John Mangenge checks on her occasionally.
Thankfully, Rahma affirmed to ICC that she is not turning back. She said: “I will go as far as it takes to live for God and serve Him regardless of the level of persecution I might face in the future. Christ is my hope and the Gospel of salvation must be preached to the Muslim community. God will help me.”