Nadia Din, a young Pakistani woman, converted to Christianity from Islam and married a Christian man, Aleem Masih, in April 2014. The couple, from Lahore, northern Pakistan, fled to the town of Narang Mandi, around 50 kilometres (31 miles) away, fearing attacks from Nadia’s family who were incensed at her conversion. Returning to Lahore last year, they were abducted by Nadia’s father and brother. They shot both Nadia and Aleem, leaving them for dead. Nadia survived her injuries, but Aleem died. Nadia’s family said they had avenged their humiliation and restored the pride of the Muslims by killing the couple in cold blood.
New Christians face persecution in many contexts: at the hands of Hindu extremists in India, for example, or by Buddhist extremists in Sri Lanka and south-east Asia. But they are most at risk in Islamic contexts. All schools of sharia prescribe the death penalty for adult males who leave Islam. Apostasy from Islam is officially outlawed in 24 countries and punishable to different degrees although the death penalty, where legal, is very rarely enforced.
Converts are more likely to be imprisoned and tortured, as in Iran where more than a hundred are currently incarcerated. Converts from Islam also very often face pressure from their families to return to Islam or endure outright rejection if they refuse. They may lose their spouses, children, jobs, homes and possessions or be forced into hiding because of the threat to their safety. Some are killed by family members or by zealous Muslims. Barnabas Fund’s Convert Fund supports vulnerable new Christians by providing them with safe places of refuge, discipleship training and education, skills training and small-business start-up costs.
Give thanks for all those who give their lives to the Lord, and for the faith of those who endure even in the face of great loss and suffering. Pray that the Lord will use other Christians to support, comfort and encourage vulnerable new converts and that He will strengthen new Christians who are isolated. Pray for protection for those who are at risk of violence, and ask that those who are rejected by their families will be comforted by the knowledge that their place in God’s family can never be taken away from them.