A vicious civil war has been exhausting Yemen for two years now. While society is still dominated by strict Islamic rule, some Christian pastors baptize new believers regularly. Jamil, a former Yemeni Muslim but now a follower of Christ, shares a unique insight into the body of Christ in Yemen.
“As Christians we feel like strangers in our own country. The war has focused us on what really matters—following Christ—even if it costs us our lives. The Bible is very clear about what we can expect; suffering is part of life for those who follow Christ. This is why many Yemeni Christians really long for Jesus to return. We lost so much; we reach out to the everlasting peace that He will bring one day—hopefully soon!”
Jamil was born and raised in Yemen to a Muslim family. As a young man he got to know Christ and started following Him. This cost him most of his relationships within his family. “Yemeni Muslims are raised with the idea that converting to Christianity should lead to immediate exclusion from your family and tribe, and of course you’ll have to suffer the wrath of Allah.”
That is why Yemeni’s who follow Christ do so with all their hearts. “There is no way back. We all know that. Becoming a Christian will cost you so much; there is nothing that will make you turn your back on Him,” he says.
Jamil migrated out of Yemen before the war started, but he regularly returns to encourage his Christian brothers and sisters. A lot has changed for Yemeni Christians since the war started, Jamil notices. “The violence has affected the church enormously. Many Christians had to leave their communities; they are now scattered all over the country,” Jamil shares. “It may sound strange, but the fact that many Christian families had to flee has become a huge blessing. There are Christians everywhere in the country now, not just in certain pockets. And the faith is growing because, as Christians, we seem to have lost our fear. Through the crisis and the war God has empowered us to share the Gospel wherever we are.”
He knows of some pastors who regularly baptize new believers. “The war creates new chances for the gospel. A growing number of Muslims in Yemen is very disappointed with their religion. They see now that ‘religion’ will just bring them more trouble and are re-orientating themselves. This is a great chance for Christians, not to introduce them to a new religion, but to show them that a relationship with Jesus Christ is the answer.”
*representative name and photo used to protect identity