Monday, March 10, 2008

Secret Believers

If you are interested in witnessing to Muslims or are just curious about how Christians live in the Middle East, then I highly recommend this book by Brother Andrew and Al Janssen. I had started reading it after hearing Brother Andrew speak last fall and had only made it about halfway through as other books demanded my attention (my book club keeps me busy!), but was able to finish it while lying in bed sick yesterday.

Here is the book summary from

In his letter to his protégé, Timothy, Paul says, I have fought the good fight. In Arabic, those last three words are translated jihad. In Secret Believers, readers are introduced to Brother Andrews protégé in the Muslim world, Butros. In this riveting true story of the Middle Eastern Church struggling to come to grips with hostile governments, terrorist acts, and an influx of Muslims coming to Christ, readers will meet a group of men and women they never knew existed. The names and places have been changed to protect the real people in the real places. But the stories are true. In his most incredible and eye-opening book to date, Brother Andrew invites you to meet: Ahmed, a young Muslim terrified by nightmares until he is introduced to Isa (Jesus) Mustafa, a former leader in a fundamentalist Muslim movement that persecuted Christians Salima, a privileged young Muslim woman who is held captive by her family when they find a Bible in her possession Abuna, a priest faced with an aging congregation and constant threats to his beloved church and many more. Secret Believers not only gives readers a glimpse of the lives of these courageous believers, it also proposes four practical initiatives for Christians in the West to help these persecuted brothers and sisters. It calls us to join this new kind of jihad, leaving vengeance behind in favor of forgiveness, radical love, and unyielding prayer.

I was very surprised to read in the book's epilogue that although the US set Afghanistan free from Taliban rule, the new constitution in place there strikingly resembles the old Taliban constitution. So why are we over there if we are not changing things? Christians are very much oppressed, even under US supervision. Here is a recent report from Open Doors:

The status of religious freedom for Christians deteriorated in 2007 in countries like Afghanistan, Pakistan (from No. 17 to No. 15), Libya (from No. 26 to No. 23), Jordan (from No. 40 to No. 39), Belarus (from No. 42 to No. 41) and the Palestinian Territories (No. 42).

In Afghanistan, the major incident of the 23 South Korean Christians who were abducted in July 2007 gave the country a worse mark than in 2006, though other incidents also contributed to this.

Again, why did we go into Afghanistan to free people from oppression if they remain still under oppression?

I came away from this book very much impressed with the fact that I need to be more informed on what US policy is and is not doing in the Middle East. I encourage you also to do your own research and not be complacent hearing the news reports, which almost always fail to make us aware of the persecution of believers in other countries. Definitely not "news worthy" for our celebrity-saturated, consumerist driven news reports (I'm sorry, but I am still shocked to check news websites only to get celebrity gossip. It's why I visit international news sites now).

Go take a look at the Open Doors website. If you have never heard of Brother Andrew, I recommend you become acquainted with him by reading his autobiography, God's Smuggler.

Also, we need to pray for the persecuted church. As the book Secret Believers reminds us, do not pray for, but with them, for they are not just fellow believers but our brothers and sisters in Christ.

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