*Representative photo used to protect identity
Rejection of family and friends- that is what many Christians in North Africa face. Hassina*, a young woman in Algeria, tells her story.
Hassina was a respected young Algerian woman. She was a devout Muslim, practiced her prayers, respected Ramadan and stood out in doing good works. “I tried to please God, doing all the things I should, but my life was a desert.” Everything changed when she started to follow Jesus.
“I started to pray as a Muslim and perform my religious duties from a young age. I got up very early in the morning for the dawn prayer. Everybody loved me because they saw in me a model of obedience to Allah”, she shares while she takes a sip of tea.
“I didn’t feel peace in my heart. When I finished my prayer, I knelt for a moment and implored God, in my native tongue, to lead me from the shadows and into the light.” This different prayer was answered; she came to know Jesus Christ.
It started with television. Hassina and her husband Djamel discovered the message of the gospel through a Christian TV channel. “My husband had a Christian friend who often talked to him about Jesus Christ. But he had not shared that with me. One day, I asked my husband to practice prayers to Allah. He surprised me by replying that if he was to approach God, he would do it through Jesus Christ,” she tells.
Her husband told her that he became interested in Jesus. Someone had told him about Christian TV channels that talk about Isa (Jesus) and the gospel. Wanting to know more about ‘the path of Jesus’, she asked him to get whatever was needed to watch these channels.
They watched, and heard the gospel. “My husband called the number at the end of a program with a focus on Christian teaching. A man replied and gave us the number of the leader of a church just a few miles from where we live. We invited him to our home. He came and he answered all our questions about God, the Christian faith and salvation,” Hassina continues.
“I was convinced by the message of the gospel. I immediately expressed my faith in Jesus and told about my desire to follow Him. I felt as if God had rescued me from a deep well, I experienced a deep peace inside my heart”, says a very emotional Hassina.
A few days later, Hassina and her husband, went to the church and met with other believers. “We were surprised by the number of Christians there are in Algeria. We realized that Jesus did not come for Westerners, as we were told once, but that He came into the world to save all sinners without distinction of race or color.”
Hassina’s conversion created problems. Her family rejected her. “I visited my family once we had returned. I took the opportunity to share about my new faith with them. My parents became furious. My mother said that I was crazy in denying my religion and to follow the faith of the unbelievers. My father shouted at me, saying that I had disgraced the name of the family. My father presented me with a difficult choice. If I renounced Jesus, my father would accept me; if I would continue as a Christian, I would lose any relationship with my family.”
She did make a hard choice. “I could not deny Christ. I told my father that it was impossible for me to give up Jesus Christ, because He had saved me from hell and given me eternal life. When I gave this answer, my father immediately ordered me to get out of the house. It was ten o’clock in the evening. My husband couldn’t pick me up because he has no car. Fortunately, a neighbor agreed to drive me home, otherwise I would have spent the night outside.”
After a few weeks, her father sent Hassina a message, ordering her to divorce her husband, because he believed that it was her husband who influenced her. She refused and answered him that it was her personal choice. Please continue to keep Hassina, her husband and so many other believers throughout this region in similar circumstances. May God be glorified through them!