Can you imagine: You’re a young child, and your extremist parents tell you that it is acceptable—even commendable—to hate Christians. In many extremist Muslim families, children are fed lies about Jesus and Christianity in order to nurture disgust and anger toward Christians. Each lie crafted in a way that violates one of their religious ideals that Muslims hold dear. By taking an ideal that Muslims hold sacred and claiming that Christians not only don’t hold that ideal sacred, but they desecrate that ideal, a special kind of hatred and fury is birthed in the hearts and minds of children. This hatred too often turns into life-threatening persecution.
From “Infidels” to “Brothers and Sisters”
For Sidqi, who was born into a family with strong ties to Islamic extremists, this was reality. In fact, as a young boy in Egypt, Sidqi was told to choose a local Christian child to beat up. He was fed lies about the Christian faith, horrible smears with no basis in truth. For example, he was told that on New Year’s Eve, Christians gathered in church to commit adultery with one another. It was no wonder his own community considered Christians deplorable infidels who deserved to be hated and even killed.
As a teenager, Sidqi took great joy in harassing his Christian classmates, though he found it curious that they always responded to his persecution with love. He recalls a time when he beat up a Christian boy and stole his jacket. The next day, this same Christian brought him a bag with another jacket in it. He told Sidqi, “You might need this in winter.”
Now these Christians had Sidqi’s attention. He found himself wanting to spend time with them, if only to discover the source of their love. And so, he became friends with some of the very people he had been taught to hate.
Witnessing Love and Seeing Visions
One day, when the father of one of his new Christian friends had an accident, Sidqi witnessed these believers and their families gather around the man to pray for him. That same day, Sidqi’s own cousin had an accident, but the response to this injury was very different than the one employed by his Christian friends. Instead of gathering around the injured girl, Sidqi’s mother threatened to move out of the house if her father dared to help her. She was feuding with her sister-in-law and refused to stifle her hatred to care for someone from that side of the family. In that moment, Sidqi could see the stark difference between Christianity and Islam, and he understood that some members of his community had been spreading lies and misconceptions about Christians in order to fuel their persecution and discredit their way of life.
After this experience, Sidqi began visiting one of his Christian friends so they could read the Bible together. The Sermon on the Mount answered many of his questions about what it means to live as a Christian, but he had one big question in his heart that was still unanswered. So, one day, he prayed and asked Jesus, “Who are you?” Jesus responded with a vision: Sidqi saw a strong, bright light. Then a hand reached out and touched him, and he heard a voice say, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.”
Sidqi continued to read the Bible, comparing it to the Quran. He was intrigued to discover that even the Quran honored Jesus, proclaiming Him to be better than Mohammad. He had another vision, similar to the first, but this time he shared what he saw with a Christian friend. His friend bowed down and thanked the Lord; he had been praying for Sidqi and knew these visions were the answer to his prayers. It was then that Sidqi decided to give his life to the Lord.
Prison, Persecution, and a New Path
When Sidqi moved away from home, he took a job as a presser ironing clothes and began attending church services. With distance between himself and his extremist family, he was growing in his faith. But when his father visited and asked why he had moved away, Sidqi was afraid and lied. He told his dad he had left home because he wanted to get married. Delighted, his father offered to help him. Sidqi married a Muslim woman to protect his lie, and they had a daughter the following year. Sadly, Sidqi’s wife divorced him when she discovered his secret Christian faith. Not only that, she informed the authorities, and he was arrested. Sidqi spent the next two years in prison.
Those two years did not soften his ex-wife’s heart. In fact, he would experience even more persecution. When Sidqi was released from prison and tried to see his daughter, her family tried to kill him. But nothing they could do to him would make him turn away from Jesus. In fact, his years in prison had only strengthened his faith, as it gave him time to study the Bible.
From that point on, Sidqi began serving in ministry, working with different churches in Egypt, and Sudan. He even remarried and had another daughter. But when locals discovered Sidqi was a former Muslim, persecution began again—they broke into the family’s home and vandalized it. They also threatened Sidqi’s life, so his young family was forced to leave Egypt for good.
After being on the run from persecution for some time, the family came to live in a neighboring country where they remain today. With great effort, Sidqi is working to provide for his family and to obtain residency. He is now an assistant pastor at a local church in his community. Help the Persecuted has come alongside Sidqi, his wife and their young daughter, providing funds that will help them in their efforts to become legal citizens and establish a livelihood for themselves. This is more than just providing for the needs of this family. It allows Sidqi’s family to establish roots, join the community, and be a light for Christ in a region hostile to the Gospel. They have stayed in the Middle East because it’s their homeland, and they feel a sense of place in living their lives for Jesus where God has strategically placed them.
What Happens When You Support the Persecuted
When you support persecuted Christians through prayer and gifts, you’re keeping families together. You’re equipping generations with discipleship tools. You’re pushing back the darkness in areas that are violently hostile to the Gospel. Your support gives hope to thousands of Christians in the Middle East and North Africa. God is using your support to change lives for eternity. Get involved today, and support the persecuted.