We knew we had to help.  

Mustafa reached out to our Field Ministry Team in Iraq last year through a Facebook message. He was confused … and questioning his Muslim upbringing. As Mustafa grew to trust our team, many of whom are former Muslims themselves, friendships developed, and conversations deepened over days and weeks.  

Soon, Mustafa came to place his faith in Jesus Christ! Although he knew the severe consequences of his conversion to Christianity from Islam, Mustafa wanted to continue learning more and more about Jesus, and our Field Ministry Team discipled him.  

As he grew in his faith, Mustafa could not contain the Good News. He boldly began to share Christ with his cousin Ali…who also gave his life to Christ! 

They both wanted to be baptized but knew that persecution would come. Neither expected to survive if their family found out about their newfound faith in Jesus. Mustafa told us in secret, “I know I will be killed, but I wish to be baptized first.” 

Our team made a plan to get Mustafa and Ali to safety, coordinating a trip to meet with the cousins for baptism.  

Persecution…and even torture 

But Mustafa and Ali didn’t make it that day. When they went to pick up their passports, the clerk recognized Mustafa and called his father. They were followed home, threatened, and beaten by their family…their own flesh and blood. Mustafa’s father was so angry about his son’s conversion that he violently broke all of Mustafa’s fingers. 

Mustafa’s family imprisoned him in his room and took his passport. His sister, however, was kind to him, and she would talk to him from the other side of the door in hushed whispers, relaying messages through a secret phone between Mustafa and our team. Our team continued to pray with Mustafa and encourage him. He amazed us with his steadfastness in faith despite unimaginable horrors. 

Mustafa’s brothers withheld food from him and began hanging him by the ceiling fan, insisting Mustafa renounce Christ and say the Islamic confession of faith. He became very sick from malnourishment. One day, Mustafa’s sister, deeply concerned for the brother she loved, helped him call our team member in Iraq to plead for help. By God’s grace and through your faithful support, we responded immediately. 

When Mustafa’s family left town for a wedding, our courageous brother in Christ escaped his room and found his passport. Our local team arranged for persecuted believers we previously helped who lived nearby to rescue their Christian brother Mustafa and bring him and Ali, who had also been battling extreme persecution, to one of our Safe Houses in Iraq. Our Safe Houses network, which covers 18 strategic locations in some of the most dangerous regions in the Muslim world, shelter Christians in crisis while helping them heal after extreme persecution.  

There, our team showered Mustafa and Ali with the love of Jesus. We addressed their immediate physical needs … giving them food, tending to their wounds, and providing clean clothes.  While they rested and experienced Christian fellowship for the first time ever, our team pieced together evacuation plans. 

A quick escape 

Knowing Ali and Mustafa had to get out of Iraq quickly, members of our Field Ministry Teams mobilized across countries and used Lightning Funds—emergency dollars that help our team make quick decisions that save lives—to secure airplane tickets, airport pickups, and hotel rooms. Again, persecuted believers we had previously assisted played a pivotal role in the efforts to get Ali and Mustafa to safety. 

The cousins spent months at our Safe House in Lebanon, healing and receiving treatment. We provided urgent medical care for Mustafa, who is still recovering to this day from the effects of extreme malnourishment. Both men received trauma counseling from our trained team members and began to process  the emotional pain of all they had lost for the sake of Christ. They were surrounded by new circles of steady support and fellowship.  

Ali said, “This is my first time worshiping in a church. I am beyond thankful that we were able to escape and be with you! I can rest assured that Jesus Christ has my future secured for me. This is the happiest I have ever been.” 

As time passed, Ali and Mustafa longed to return to their home country to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with other Iraqis. The two men returned to Iraq and settled away from their hometown.  

A Spiritual Retreat 

Our team has remained in close contact with the cousins, who recently attended a Spiritual Retreat hosted by Help The Persecuted for young men in Iraq. Our Spiritual Retreats invest in persecuted men, women, and children in life-transforming ways. We disciple new believers, provide biblical counseling, and offer a safe place to pray, worship, study the Bible, and grow in faith with community. After just a few days, mourning is replaced with a passion to endure with Christ no matter the persecution.   

Mustafa shared, “It took me over 10 hours to be at this Spiritual Retreat. I have been alone for the past 8 months, sleeping in the store where I work. There isn’t another Christian for hundreds of miles. I have been thirsty for the Word of God, and longing for an opportunity to be baptized.”  

Twenty-six brave converts came together to be discipled and encourage one another as they grow the Church in Iraq. The cousins got to attend their first worship service. And…our team had the privilege of finally baptizing Mustafa and Ali! 

When Mustafa was baptized, he said, “I will never leave Jesus—that is why I’m in the water today.” 

Mustafa and Ali Today 

Today, Mustafa and Ali are attempting to rebuild their lives away from their families. But things remain hard for them. Mustafa sleeps in a trailer adjacent to the produce and fruit store that employs him, while Ali sleeps in the restaurant where he works. Mustafa recently called our team member in tears because his mother is ill, but he cannot go visit her because his family will try to kill him.  

Both men continue to struggle, but they remain faithful to the Lord and are growing in their walks with Him day by day.  

Please pray for both Mustafa and Ali as they continue to cling to Christ as they walk the difficult road of persecution!  

Help Others Like Mustafa and Ali 

Mustafa and Ali could have so easily been young converts who reverted back to Islam under pressure. But because of your support, they are among the number of young men in Iraq who are growing the Church. 

God has given them joy and hope for their futures. Thank you for being a vital part of our multi-faceted ministry to Mustafa and Ali.