*Representative photo used to protect believer’s identity
Courageous Somali believer Fatuma Nur Hussain* has sacrificed everything familiar to follow Christ – her family, friends, studies and her safety. Fleeing from her family after intense pressure to recant, she lives day by day with the constant fear of being found by them. She endures great uncertainty about her future. But despite these pressures, she continues to cling to Christ in faith, desiring to grow to a deep knowledge of the One who saved her.
Fatuma was born into a Muslim-Somali family. The 23-year-old woman has 22 brothers and sisters. Her mother was the second of her father’s four wives, but she died when Fatuma was only 13.
Fatuma’s family practiced heavily syncretistic folk Islam, and it was her mother’s responsibility to make offerings on behalf of the family to the ancestors by slaughtering red goats. When she died, it was assumed that Fatuma would take over this responsibility. But she had other interests. She wanted to graduate from school and live her own life.
Following her mother’s death, Fatuma enrolled to study Accounting at University. One day, a Christian friend on campus told her about Jesus and His healing power and invited Fatuma to attend church with her. Because of some intense health issues she had been recently experiencing, she agreed to go. After the visit, Fatuma saw remarkable improvement in her health, but didn’t make a decision to follow Christ.
Several weeks later, she went to church again, and made a decision for Christ. Fatuma experienced not only spiritual freedom, but received physical healing. She joined the church, and began attending all the services.
Fatuma’s older sister knew of nothing, but a family friend warned her that Fatuma was attending church. Although Fatuma managed to avoid detection for a while, the day came when her sister showed up at a church service.
“Why do you come here? We are Muslims,” her sister declared. Fatuma was silent. Her sister took her home and locked her in a room for four months. She was only given some food through the window. No one was allowed to visit or talk to her and she was not able to go to the University or report her withdrawal.
After four months, Fatuma’s sister hoped she had renounced her decision to be a Christian. “One day, my sister just opened the door and started talking to me,” said Fatuma. “She asked me to forgive her for locking me up for so long. She briefly left the room to go to the bathroom, leaving the door open. I knew that was God’s opening. I didn’t waste any time; I quickly ran away without even putting shoes on. I didn’t know where I was running, but I knew I had to go. I called my campus Christian friend to tell her about my situation, and she informed other school friends. Then they hastily contributed money to buy me an air ticket out.”
She knew some of her relatives were living in the area where she was headed to, but she had also heard about Christians living there despite the difficulties associated with following Christ there. After arriving, Fatuma stayed with a believer by the name of Sister Rebecca* who ministers to Muslim Background Believers. Initially, Rebecca was unsure whether Fatuma’s faith was genuine. Some so-called MBBs she had supported turned against her and caused her a lot of trouble. But Rebecca helped Fatuma despite her doubts, and as time passed, she discovered Fatuma was a true believer.
Fatuma continues to live with Rebecca while growing in her knowledge of Christ. She earns a small income, but continues to face danger and uncertainty. She heard that a Muslim uncle living in the area has heard about her conversion and may be looking for her. Every time she goes out, she covers herself to hide her identity.
It is not clear what the future holds for Fatuma, but one thing is for sure – she wants to continue growing in Christ. “I want to be a witness to others, but I don’t always know how to share my faith with them,” she says. “I read the Bible often. Psalm 23:6 is my favorite verse: ‘Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever’.”
We thank the Lord for Fatuma’s faith and her desire to get to know Jesus more intimately. It is our desire to see a greater number of His children like Fatuma properly discipled, have access to the Word of God and help them find ways to make a living when their neighbors push them onto the margins of society.