Peace in Jesus

Abdu Muhammad Ibrahim is a 43 year old former Muslim, now a Christian for 9 years. Abdu was a Dah’wa Worker evangelizing for Islam and a journalist for one of the oldest Muslim newspapers in Ethiopia named Hikma(wisdom). One day while he was out preaching Islam around Addis Ababa, some men who were on the street sharing Christ gave him a tract. He had been reading the Bible trying to find out why humans were created. So he was interested to know more but he found as he read the bible and compared that to the life of the Christians and the churches he saw that there was a contradiction. The people did not seem to live the Christian life he saw described in the New Testament. But he wanted peace, he had money because his wife was sending money from UK but he had no peace. So he asked the evangelists how to get peace and they said by faith in Christ and you will have peace. They were handing out tracts and so he took one. So they told him to go to the church because they were afraid to pray with him on the street since he was looking like a Muslim so he thought they were not really sincere Christians. So since he was leaving they changed their mind and said they would pray there on the street so they gathered in a circle around him and they began to pray for him and he received Christ. They asked him if he had a Bible and how he read it, etc. He told them he would simply read and so they told him to pray before reading for a Spirit of revelation. They told him to read the first book of OT and then the first of the New Testament and to go back and forth like that. So he began to read both the Bible and Qu’ran side by side. But now as he began to read, “In the beginning…” he could not pass that point without crying. For 3 days it was like that and on the 3rd day he went to church. Since then he has continued in the way of Jesus.

Abdu’s wife was in England because was using her job there to send money and support the Dah’wa movement in Ethiopia. He wrote to his wife in England to tell her about his conversion and also informed his boss at the Islamic Newspaper.  They wanted to hear why he had changed from being such a strong Muslim preaching and evangelizing people to Islam and now had changed to be a Christian.  His wife wanted to know did he need a new wife or more money? But he said, “No, only I am now at peace. I have not known peace in my life until now.” So she wanted to have their children transferred to her family but Abdu was not willing to do this. He spent the next 2 years just being faithful in the church. The church gave him a place to live so he could not be burdened with rent since he was now learning to preach Jesus. He was baptized during this time and started to preach to whoever would listen of those he knew among the Muslims in Addis Ababa.

Because of his preaching there were Muslims who came to damage the church and cause many problems so the church leaders told him he must not preach any more or else must move to another place since the damage was too much. But he could not stop preaching, it was like fire shut up in his bones, so he left that place and began to travel and preach wherever he could. He was doing any work he could find to support himself and preaching to Muslims whenever he had the opportunity. He met a friend from Afar (a strong, even fanatical Muslim area) who was also a Christian and they went together to Afar to preach the gospel. So they were travelling between Addis Ababa and Afar and preaching to any Muslims who would listen. In Addis at that time there were places called Muslim Knowledge and Dah’wa Associations that had been started by Saudi’s around the city to spread Islam. These Muslim works were aimed mainly at college students. So they were teaching Islam and since Abdu had been involved they knew him and they wanted to know why he would convert to become a Christian. This Saudi group was planning to encourage a Muslim revolution in the Horn of Africa and especially Ethiopia. Even though Islam had come to Ethiopia before other African nations, Islam has not expanded into all the country and remains less than half the population (census shows presently about 33%). So Ethiopia was influenced by Islam long before the rest of Northern Africa but they are Muslim nations and Ethiopia is not. Thus Ethiopia is something of a disappointment if not an embarrassment. Islam came to Somalia from Ethiopia (Harar), but Ethiopia is not Muslim nation and Somalia is.

So Abdu and his friend Muhammad were travelling to Afar preaching Christ. But Muhammad was given poison by his wife’s brother and so he died and Abdu was alone in the work. Abdu continued the ministry to Afar and so they beat Abdu very badly whenever he would preach in Afar. The first time he received this beating was after 4 years as a Christian. After that he stayed in Addis for 1 year recovering but then after 1 year he went again to Afar. Now he has grown in his faith in Christ through his suffering. So every 2 months he would go to Afar for 10-15 days preaching in the many areas of Afar. He continued this for 1 ½ years and during that time 3 Afar guys became Christians which is very miraculous (Afar people at that time were not known to ever come to Christ). So he was hopeful and he taught these three faithfully about Christ. They were living far apart in various areas of Afar and he would travel from one to the other to teach them in their new faith. At that time a Muslim Dah’wa group came from Wollo and found Abdu and one of his converts and so the Muslims tried to convert them back to Islam. They talked back and forth for 5 days about the Bible and the Qu’ran and when they had finished they wanted to kill Abdu because they had not prevailed. One of them received Christ but the others just wanted to discuss on and on but in the end they could not defeat Abdu’s teaching. They had been discussing together in the mosque and on the last day after the 4 pm Salat (prayer) they came again to finish their talk (4 of them) and one of them came behind him and put something around his neck to choke him and kill him. They pulled him away from the Mosque and beat him badly trying to kill him. They wanted to stop him from having any heirs so he was beaten very badly to make him unable to have children and they threw him out in the street. The police found him and took him to a clinic that night but Abdu could not speak because they had damaged his neck by choking him. So they sent him to another hospital in a larger city but they could not help him so they sent him on to Addis Ababa for 17 days in the hospital and after that he could finally speak. The doctor told him the condition was very serious and he needed continued treatment but he had no money. He went home but he could not work or preach or anything because of his injuries.

There was one Muslim guy in Saudi who he had known before while being a Muslim so he wrote to him to get help and that guy sent him some money and also some Christian friends in Addis helped him. So still he could do nothing as far as work and had no money for treatment. He went to a hot spring area since some said it may bring him some relief and stayed in Adama so he could go to Sodere (hot spring) and he took some aspirin for medication used the hot spring and with this treatment his legs were not in pain any more but he could not control his urine due to the injury. He was doing some evangelism in Adama and one Christian brother heard about him and wanted to do something. So he was able to go to a hospital and get some treatment which brought some improvement. So he returned to his ministry in Afar and Somali region around the city of Dire Dawa. The Lord spoke to him clearly to go and to work in these areas even though he has suffered so much. A pastor form Addis Ababa called him and helped him again to get some medical treatment at the Korean Hospital which allowed him to get a much needed operation so he was much improved but was not fully well. To this day he is much better in every way but he cannot have children and has some other ongoing health problems from his injuries.

The three who were converted earlier in Afar were working with the church in Awash but they had to flee the area to Desse (out of Afar). So Abdu prepared some written materials and CD’s of his teaching and copies began to be made and distributed in Amharic. He also wrote a book of about 100 pages. At that time he also went to the Karayu area where the people are Oromo but they are much like Afar people and 11 were saved there. Ironically, around this time Abdu’s wife was killed in a train accident in UK caused by terrorists. So her family did not tell him at that time because she had married another Muslim man in UK after Abdu became a Christian and the money paid to the victims went to the family and not to Abdu or his children.

Abdu and those he works with have been beaten and have suffered in many ways for preaching Christ among the Muslims.  But still he wants to preach to the Afar and the Somali people since he speaks their language and loves them very much. He is caring for his 3 children 17, 16, and 12 and must take care of their school expense, etc. but has no steady income, only some Christians support him including Fire Over Africa.

The Muslims want to know where is the church like that in the Book of Acts? That apostolic church does not seem to exist now so they say Islam has a greater revelation. Also the teaching about the return of Christ is very important, converted Muslims say, if Christ is not coming again why do we suffer? The genuine gospel must be preached, the word of God that brings repentance and hope.

Even recently Muslims came to him to get him to go to Saudi and to learn in the Muslim Schools there and they would financially  support him and he would not have such a difficult life and he could learn and teach Islam. But he told them he will never leave Christ.

More than 5 times the head of the Muslim Dah’wa mission has called him to debate in front of Muslim students around Addis Ababa but they cannot defeat him. In the city where now lives he has now led 5 to Christ along with their families and he is teaching them. He wants to have a chance to study the Bible in a formal school setting since he has never had that opportunity. It is our hope to raise enough funds to send him and his family to live in a city where Shiloh Bible College Ethiopia operates and support them as he studies and help him to be more effective in his ministry. CD’s of his teaching have been very effective in reaching Muslims and so we would also like to make copies and distribute them especially in Afar and the Somali regions of Ethiopia.

First Converted Christians in an Unreached Area

Badya and Alye were the first Christians to come to the place where they have now started a church and Badye was the first Christian in this area.  He was led to the Lord by people from Wolayta and Kambata who told him about the Lord. His own people told him that their clan only worships the Allah and that the Christian God is for other tribes. They told him that even if he died they would not bury him but just leave him like a dog to be eaten by animals and so he should come back to Islam.  But he said, “No, I cannot deny Christ.  Even if you reject me I will only love you.” He told him he would rather deny his family than to deny Christ. So he encouraged them just to wait and be quiet because his faith is the true one and the day will come that you will come also to Christ.  They told him he must have been drugged by the Christians and that is why he is talking this way but really he testifies it is the love of Christ that has been injected into his soul by the Spirit of the Lord.  Badya has been a Christian for 11 years now. He had only been a Christian for 15 days when he began to have meetings in his home and to testify about Christ.  As he shared his testimony many began to come to know Christ and so they began regular services. Since Alye came to help him they have built a church on land donated by one of the new converts. The Lord showed them where to build although it was only a field at the time.  They began to work with no help from outside and just prayed for the Lord’s help and now they have a church.

Alye is our graduate and a missionary in this place.  He has been saved for 8 years. He used to serve in the Mosque as a leader and his sisters were doing service to the local spirits named Boranthicha, Golfa and Jar. These are traditional spirits connected with the traditional religion of this area. The ancestors of their family are Muslims who also worshipped these same spirits. These spirits possessed the men of the family passing from one generation to the next.  These spirits caused conflict in the family with much fighting and disagreement, loss of production on the farm and even miscarriages. He went to get help from those who practiced witchcraft and he was told to sacrifice 11 animals or he would not be free and eventually the spirits would kill him.  But he did so many cattle and he would not do it.  So the spirit bound his hands and feet so he could not walk or do anything and he could just lay on the ground.

He had heard about Jesus and wanted to find a Christian to pray for him but his wife said it would only bring persecution on the family. But he told her he would rather be a Christian and be persecuted than continue with these evil spirits.  In his heart he was remembering how his friend told him once he must receive Jesus Christ and so this was in his mind. Although Badya had already become a Christian and a few others they had moved to the town because of persecution. So Alye found a way to get to town and found a Christian there and told him he wanted to know about Christ. That Christian told him, “You are a drunkard and of low character so I will not preach to you because you will never change.” But Alye insisted so they took him to a church and that was when he gave his heart to the Lord. At that time he saw himself in a vision washing and being cleansed from the evil spirit and so he was both saved and delivered that same day. He knew he must have Christ and peace so no amount of persecution was too much for him to bear.  For 12 months he just remained quiet in his house but then he became a bold witness and went throughout the area testifying of what Christ had done for him.  So they excommunicated him from the mosque but he did not care because he had peace in his heart.

He was a part of a community association among the farmers and in this association there had gathered 20 quintals of maize.  The tradition was that if someone borrowed 1 quintal they would bring back 2 and he had been the manager of this store and so operated according to this tradition.  But now he went to them and said he had become a Christian and so from then on if someone borrowed 1 Quintal they would just bring back 1. Because of this word of wisdom from the Lord his name was restored in the community and he was accepted again. Under his leadership the community association prospered and so he was appreciated by the other farmers. The Muslims around that area were at peace with him, but others came from the surrounding areas to persecute him and so he and 3 other Christians were very much in distress.  He told the others that they must not flee to the town but must rather stay and testify to the Muslims and reach them for the gospel. After a while they began to be successful reaching the people there and he donated some land where they now have a church.

So as some Muslims began to receive Christ, others came to the area offering them money if they would return to Islam.  They said they would take them to Saudi Arabia and give them many benefits. One of the Christians turned from Christ because of this temptation and so they took him to Addis Ababa and prepared to fly him to Saudi Arabia. At this time Alye and his wife began to pray earnestly for this man’s soul asking God to do a miracle to restore him to faith in Christ. It was not long that the plane was leaving for Saudi Arabia but somehow that brother missed it and so was left in Addis Ababa alone and so came back home and has now been restored to faith.

Alye began to prepare to build the church but the Muslims took the wood and burned it. At that time his father was saved also and began to challenge Alye that the older men should come to Christ too so he began to pray for the older men of the community and now they are beginning to come to Christ as well.  They did not know what to do about the building but then they found that a man who was a Christian from the community had gone to Norway to work.  Alye contacted him and told him how the Muslims had burned the wood they had prepared for building the church and that man sent money to help them (About $4000 USD).

At that time he was invited to come to SBCE to study in the missionary training program.  So his preaching and teaching are much improved and now he is a strong preacher of the gospel.  Just in the first 2 months after returning from his graduation 10 new converts came to Christ through his ministry.  Last September they baptized 6 new believers. After coming back from his studies the Lord gave him an idea to dedicate one hectare of land where they would grow maize and use it to support the ministry. Since it was a difficult time with much famine around it was difficult for him to ask the believers to donate time to work in that field for the church but they persevered and produced a good harvest and the profit has allowed them to finish the church. Alye’s testimony is that his study at Shiloh Bible College Ethiopia has changed his life and ministry.

Since donating for the church building, the brother in Norway has sent three container loads of plants to help the farmers in the area so Alye delivered these plants to 800 farmers, all Muslims.  This was recorded on video and has caused many people around the area and others who have seen the video to turn their hearts toward the gospel.

In the midst of all of this the Muslim leaders of the area brought some fundamentalist Muslims form Bali to help them to persecute the Christians.  They found one missionary named Markos and beat him to death but God raised him up.  Another missionary they tried to kill with a spear but it did not hurt him, only cutting his clothing.  These fundamentalist Muslims gathered a meeting of 5000 Muslims in the area to discuss how to stop the Christians.  They brought leaders from other parts of Ethiopia and even Saudi Arabia.  They slaughtered an ox and had a great feast telling the people they must resist the Christians strongly.  Alye prayed and snuck into the meeting to see what they were saying.  He found them quarrelling with government officials that were there and in the end they could do nothing and simply left. One Sheikh got up to speak against the Christians but looking out at the people he saw Alye in the crowd and suddenly he could not speak anymore.

Comment:  Many miracles are taking place and much persecution is being suffered by Ethiopian Christian missionaries who risk their lives to bring the gospel to Muslim areas. It is our goal to prepare and equip them in every way possible to be effective in their ministry and to find every way possible to support them through sponsorship, materials, and programs that can aid them in their work.  One strategy is to start kindergarten and primary school programs in Muslim areas where the children can come to be educated and also hear the gospel.  This has been very effective but for each school a blackboard, chalk and chairs are needed.  For only about $400 a school can be equipped with all that is needed for this program.  Other students are learning about health and sanitation so they can work in Muslim communities teaching these skills.  Your donation to Fire Over Africa helps us to support such training so we can equip our missionaries and give them the materials and certification needed to be qualified and prepared to run such programs. Visit our website today and make a donation to support these dedicated servants of the Lord.

Young Persecuted Evangelists

Muhammad (not his real name) is from the Southern part of Ethiopia.  He is from a rural area that is 100% Muslim. As a boy he took care of the sheep and cattle. A Muslim Sheikh would come to his area to teach the boys about the Quran and so for 6 years he attended these classes. They were taught Arabic and then the Quran. After that he went to a town to attend school and while there he attended both a secular school and also Quran school at the mosque. After grade 6 he attended only Quran School for 2 years in Bali. After that he returned to regular school and when he completed grade 10 (about age 23 or 24) he was married and moved to a town to work. But by this time he had converted to Christianity. His conversion came about because he had a long concern in his heart about his eternal destiny. He had never heard a witness about Christ but had only heard the singing from the Orthodox church in the town. In Quran school this issue of his eternal destiny had filled his thoughts but he had no answer. Then he met one Christian who gave him a New Testament in Amharic. As he read the scripture he found the true story of Jesus and since the Quran tells Muslims that the Law, Prophets and Gospels are true and to be believed. He found in the scripture assurance of eternal life and so just by himself he prayed and told the Lord he wanted to become a Christian.

Muslim teaching is that at the end of the person’s life all his works will be put on a balance and if the good works outweigh the bad then he will go to heaven but if not then he will go to hell. No one can know until that moment. So Muhammad was so happy to have assurance and peace in his heart about his eternal destiny but he had not prayed with any Christian yet and had never been taught by a Christian teacher.

His family suspected him and when they determined he had decided to be a Christian they rejected him and sent him out from the home.  At that time his wife left him and married another Muslim man. So being rejected by his family he decided to go to Church. He put on his normal (Muslim) clothes and went to church. When he got there the people were uncomfortable with him being there. Some thought he was spying on them and wanted to cause problems, others were just uncomfortable because he was clearly a Muslim and there were no others in that church. At the altar call he went forward but they were unsure about him since he was a Muslim. So after church he did not know what to do. So after having some tea and bread he went back to the church to talk to someone but no-one would greet him except the guard at the gate. That man spoke to him and spent time with him. Muhammad had no place to sleep so the guard allowed him to sleep in the guard shack and the guard prayed for him and shared with him about Christian teaching. For 5 weeks he only spoke to the guard and continued at the church but no-one else spoke to him. He worked as a daily laborer and so just had enough money to get food and to stay in the guard shack.

At this time a childhood friend who had gone to Saudi Arabia to study returned and searched to find Muhammad. He came to the town where Muhammad was and found him in the street. So they talked for a long time, all night, and Muhammad told him how he had converted to Christianity. He shared from the Quran how Jesus is called holy, He is called the word of God, and it says Jesus is in heaven, but even Muhammad is not described this way. Through this conversation his friend also decided he wanted eternal life. So he asked Muhammad to give him eternal life. So Muhammad said, I cannot give you this but we will go to the church in the morning. Now Muhammad’s friend was a member of Al Queda and had been trained how to do terrorist acts and wanted Muhammad to go with him back to Saudi Arabia to learn the same but Muhammad said no, he had become a Christian was would not go anywhere. In the morning they found another friend who was driving a truck to another place and so they went together to another town and when they arrived there Muhammad was not sure where to go to get this eternal life. So as they walked along Muhammad saw a sign pointing to a church so he said, “Let us go there, this is where the one is who can give you eternal life.” When they arrived there the choir was practicing but Muhammad’s friend did not know what they were singing because he did not know the Amharic language. So they knocked at the gate and the gate keeper came and asked them, “Why are you knocking on this gate?” (Since they were clearly Muslims) So Muhammad said, “This man wants eternal life and so we are here so you can give him.” The guard laughed at them but his father had come from Wolayta many years ago to preach among the Muslims and so he knew the Oromifa language and had become a church elder. So the guard called his father to come to speak to these guys. The father was a teacher in a school but that day the Lord had spoken to him to leave the school and go to church but he did not know why. So when the gate keeper called him and told him there is a Muslim guy at the gate of the church who wants eternal life but he did not know what to do. So when he heard this the church elder was very happy to come to share the gospel with this young al Queda member.

So he came to the church and shared to them about the Lord and then he prayed with Muhammad’s friend but after a minute or two he fell down on the ground. So Muhammad thought his friend was dead and he was very afraid but the elder of the church said, “It is OK, don’t worry.” And he rebuked the devil and brought deliverance to the young man. But he was left blind. He could not see anything for the next 6 months. Finally after about 6 months they were praying in a house and during the prayer Muhammad’s friend began to speak in tongues and his eyes were opened. They prayed and rejoiced together.

So these two guys began to minister to Muslims and have led many Muslims to Jesus. They have been attacked many times by Muslims and the Lord has delivered from death and serious injury. But that is another story for another time.

This is the kind of young preachers and evangelists and church planters that we are supporting in their training and development as ministers of the gospel and as they go out to begin their ministry. To support this work please visit our Partners Page.