Often, in order to survive in the Middle East, a Christian convert has to flee. They have to leave their home and hope to find a safe place to stay until the danger passes. Sometimes the danger never passes—and that’s where Help The Persecuted’s Safe Houses come in.
Unfortunately, it’s not an unfamiliar story: A Muslim believer secretly converts to Christianity, only to be eventually found out by family members who threaten their lives, beat them or sexually assault them.
Help The Persecuted’s Safe Houses are a sanctuary that becomes a bridge for many Christians fleeing extreme persecution. But what are they? How do they work? How does a persecuted Christian know how to find a Safe House?
What is a Safe House?
You might’ve heard the term “Safe House” used in movies, or in federal law cases when either a government operative needs to “disappear” or a witness to a crime needs to hide from those they’re testifying against. The concept is similar, but different.
Those who take shelter in Help The Persecuted’s Safe Houses are, in reality, running for their lives. They are seeking to disappear in order to preserve their lives. For us, a Safe House is more than a building to hide in. For Help The Persecuted, Safe Houses are harbors where persecuted Christians can find safety and stability, allowing them to heal and grow deeper in their faith.
Typically, Safe Houses are rented apartments or apartment buildings where furnishings, electricity, food, water, necessities, vocational training, and Bible study are provided by Help The Persecuted. During the time one of our brothers or sisters spends under our care, their needs are provided for by trained Field Ministry Team members or trusted local partners.
It’s often the case that the location of our Safe Houses must change, and quickly! Renting apartments helps us be nimble in moving threatened Christians should any location be compromised.
The Purpose of Safe Houses
When Rayah first converted to Christianity, a group of Muslim believers persecuted her, taunted her and threatened her. They tried to pressure her to denounce Christ. She refused.
One day, these hateful tormentors raped her, filmed the horrible act, and published it in her hometown for all to see. Angered because his daughter brought shame on the family, Rayah’s father beat her severely. Rayah knew that in order to live, she had to flee her home.
It’s obvious by her story that Rayah needed more than a safe place to stay. She needed ministry. At the Safe House, Rayah received counseling, food, protection and Bible study. The space and time that the Safe House provided Rayah allowed her to begin healing from the trauma she endured, both physically and emotionally. Our team has been working and praying with Rayah as she faces a very uncertain future. But she now knows the One who holds her future—and we know He will provide.
How do Christians in danger know about these Safe Houses?
Our brothers and sisters who have converted from Islam to Christianity often have been discipled by another convert. And secretly, they might become friends with other believers and begin communicating through a network of people. The Body of Christ helping the Body of Christ.
Amir is alive today because of our Safe House.
When Amir’s brothers discovered he had accepted Jesus Christ as Savior, they attacked him with knives, cutting him in several places. Amir was able to get away from them and run to find help among his believing friends. Amir refused to go to the hospital for fear his family would be waiting to attack him. Amir’s friend had a connection to our local team and reached out. Amir was taken to our Safe House where he was given medical treatment. He was able to stay in the Safe House until he healed physically and emotionally.
Help The Persecuted has laid a lot of groundwork across the Middle East and North Africa to work with trusted partners who minister to persecuted Christians in these areas. Privacy and secrecy is a matter of life or death among these secret Christians. And when one brother or sister is in need, they find ways to work together to get them to safety.
More Safe Houses Save More Lives
Recently, Help The Persecuted opened three Safe Houses, including one specifically for women in Egypt.
As more Middle Eastern Muslims convert to Christianity, the need for safe harbors increases. Our network of Safe Houses has limited availability, and we are nearing capacity.
It was just last year when one of our Field Ministry Team members received word that three converts had been killed by their family members. He was overwhelmed and burdened by the passing of these believers. Had they been able to flee to a Safe House in their area, perhaps their lives would’ve been saved.
Help The Persecuted is committed to providing more Safe Houses to save more lives this year. Our goal is a minimum of three. But how many could we open this year? With your support, we can save the lives of more persecuted Christians like Rayah and Amir.