Ahmed’s* father, along with his father’s friends, tied his hands and feet. Then they beat him with rods and kicked him as he writhed on the floor, calling on him to repent of his apostasy from Islam. Ahmed convulsed in pain, but refused to recant. In a final fit of rage, his persecutors decided to hammer a nail into his knee. As they did, Ahmed lost consciousness.
That was ten years ago, when Ahmed was 41 years old. He had remained faithful to Christ since he was 10, even though all that time his father and other family members, with the exception of a sympathetic sister, persecuted him.
Amazingly, as I listened to Ahmed tell his story, other believers who were with us remarked that Ahmed had been shown much more mercy than others they knew whose families murdered them after they converted to Christ.
I was visiting persecuted believers in North Africa. If I told you my location, I might compromise the security of those whom I had gone to serve, or jeopardize Heaven’s Family’s work there.
Some of the believers whom I met literally gather underground in caves to escape detection. It was a joy to sit with them in their subterranean chapels and fellowship—and find relief from the blistering desert heat. [I was able to say with David, “I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord'” (Psalm 122:1)!]
Ahmed is one of many other believers hidden in Islamic North Africa whom we are privileged to serve through micro-credit. After Ahmed shared his testimony, he went on to tell me of how his life and that of his family have improved since he received his $500 Opportunity Loan from Heaven’s Family last year—a loan that has enabled him to break free from economic slavery. Previously, his only option was to be exploited by members of a regional ethnic group whose ancestors literally held his ancestors as slaves. He might as well have been a slave himself for what they paid him.
Ahmed’s loan provided a chance for him to partner with a few other brothers in Christ—also loan recipients—in their own business endeavor that allows them to produce a local commodity for a profit. Now, Ahmed said, his family eats every day. His children don’t have to labor by his side, grinding out an existence. Rather, they now attend school.
Ahmed and his group paid off their loans two months early. Since then, all have received second loans to expand their profitable partnership. They’ve never been happier! *Not his actual name