A 21-year-old Kenyan woman who grew up in strict Muslim household has been disowned by her family and stripped of her possessions after they found out she had converted to Christianity. But, according to the United States based non-governmental organization International Christian Concern, that has not stopped Rahma (a pseudonym) from giving her life to Christ.
“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,” Rahma told ICC in an interview earlier this month. “So three weeks ago, I yielded to the call of God and put my faith in Christ Jesus.”
As the ICC reported, Rahma grew up in a Muslim family of eight, praying five times a day, and adhering to the teachings of the the Quran. Over time, however, she began to question some of the practices of the faith, and her exasperated father sent her to live with her aunt following the death of her mother in 2001 in hopes that she would embrace Islam, but it only drove her further away.
“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,” she explained. “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.”
Recognizing that there were other religions to explore, Rahma said she became particularly interested in Christianity in 2016, after she started secretly attending church services and seeking guidance from Christian friends.
In December, she attended an overnight prayer service at a church in Mombasa for which she was strongly reprimanded after her aunt found out. The criticism did little to dampen her curiosity and spirit.
“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,” Rahma recalled. “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 much of 2017, Rahma “tried to maintain appearances with her family,” while actively pursuing her growing interest in Christianity. She was introduced to a pastor named John Magenge, who has worked to spread the Gospel message in Muslim communities throughout the Middle East and Africa for many years. Magenge told the ICC that the life of a Christian in these parts of the world is not easy, but he admired how much adversity Rahma had already overcome.
“When she came to see me in October, I knew that she had already overcome some obstacles to Muslim evangelism,” he said. “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.”
On October 29, Rahma’s aunt discovered her niece reading a Swahili Bible she had received from the pastor, and the young woman decided to confess that she given her life to Christ. The news was not well received, and at the time of the ICC interview, Rahma had been “completely rejected by her family.”
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.
Despite all that she has endured, Rahma remains steadfast in learning and growing in her new Christian faith.
“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,” 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.”