“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” — 2 Corinthians 5:17
Time and again, our Father in heaven reveals himself to radicals and extremists in the Middle East and North Africa. While many people who convert to Christianity are everyday people with everyday families, Jesus also works to break even the toughest hearts—He makes a new creation from the minds and hearts of terrorists. He makes a new creation out of extremists and radicals.
The Terrorist Who Became a New Creation
Kader was not being raised to passively follow Islam. Though born in Iraq, as a teenager he spent time in Iran being trained by top Islamic scholars. While there, he learned Persian and became a founding member of an extremist militia. Nine years after initially traveling to Iran, Kader returned to Iraq with one goal in mind: to turn the country into a purely Islamic state through any means necessary.
As an adult, Kader began traveling between Iraq and Iran, conducting illegal trade, and was well compensated for his troubles. Though he was already married, he believed his success should allow him to take a second wife. But, of course, his bride didn’t see things that way. In response, Kader divorced her, even though she was pregnant with their first son.
Intrigued by Christian Television
A short time later, Kader was watching television, flipping through the channels looking for a program in Persian, when he stumbled upon a Christian station. It was then that he heard about Jesus—that He is the only way to life, that He gives hope to the desperate, and that He has the power to change lives. Intrigued, Kader tried to contact the television channel to find out more. When he couldn’t make a connection, he reached out to an old friend, Jabari. He asked Jabari for a Bible, and Jabari pointed Kader to a local bookstore that gladly gave Kader a Bible, free of charge.
Over the next month, Kader read the entire Bible. But now he had so many questions and no one to answer them! He kept watching Persian-language Christian television, hoping to find the answers he was looking for. One day, the program he was watching contained an invitation to accept Jesus into his heart and become a new creation. Kader responded in faith and decided he needed to change his life.
He read the Sermon on the Mount and knew he needed to love his enemies and lay down his weapons. He also knew he needed to return to his wife. Kader told her he had changed, and when she noticed the change was real, she asked him what had happened. Kader told his wife it was all the work of Jesus in his life. She decided to follow Jesus too.
Hunted for His Faith
When Kader told his family about his new faith, his brother grabbed a knife and stabbed him. Covered in blood, Kader was able to run away. Yet, when this brother learned that Kader had survived and was recovering in the hospital, he tried to kill him with a gun.
Left with little choice, Kader fled to a neighboring city. There, Kader found respite with believers who lived in town and began rebuilding his life. But one day he was discovered by another of his brothers. This brother, like the first who attacked Kader, chose a knife as his weapon and stabbed Kader in the back and in the arms. Though Kader once again survived, his family and village officially declared it permissible to kill him since he had been known to evangelize people.
Today, Kader is still hunted by his family and the former extremist militia he helped to found. He receives threats against his life and against his children. He works in construction whenever he can, but his meager income does not fully cover all their expenses.
Persecuted Believers are a New Creation
Kader’s plan is to buy a truck and work as a driver in order to have greater income stability. The truck will be used to deliver construction materials and furniture, and it will also enable Kader and his family to attend church services. Help the Persecuted has partnered with Kader’s local church to make this desire a reality, enabling Kader to build a life of dignity and stability that honors God.
Help us stand with believers like Kader who have accepted Jesus and are a new creation in Him. These men and women are rebuilding their lives after extreme persecution — and making an impact in their new communities for Jesus Christ. Through your prayer and giving, we are able to support Enduring Livelihood for persecuted Christians throughout the Middle East and North Africa.