Story Egypt | 24-4-2023

‘If we wanted to live, we had to become secret believers’: Raina's story


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While Christianity has a long history and strong presence in Egypt, it can still be incredibly dangerous to be a follower of Jesus there. Converting from Islam, especially, can be risky—and in rural areas of Egypt, it can lead to significant persecution, discrimination and violence.

Raina* is an Egyptian believer who lives in a rural area, and when her husband accepted Jesus—followed by the rest of his family—it led to a painful path. But Raina says even the difficulties have been worth it. Here is her story, told in her own words:

“My name is Rania, I am 33 years old. I am a Christian now, but I was born a Muslim. If I showed you my face, it could cost me my life. Fanatics, or even my own family, would kill me if they saw my picture online and read I rejected Islam. But I want to share with other believers what it is like to be a mother in a family of secret believers. That’s why I’ve asked a friend to draw my story. 

An illustration of a woman cooking over a fire
Raina cooking for her family.

“We come from a simple village near Cairo. My fellow villagers were extremist Muslims, and our family was no different. When I went out, I would go fully veiled, always afraid that even my fully covered body would be seen as seductive and I would bring shame to the family. From an early age, I was told that my purpose was to get married, have children and satisfy my husband. I didn’t feel like I had much value. 

“My husband, Sameh, came to Christ first; I did not like it at all. I had always learned that Christians were dirty and that converting to Christianity was a sin. But, one day, our oldest son became so sick that we were afraid we would lose him. My husband prayed for him and I didn’t think much of it. 

Raina's husband, praying for their son. 

“But, as my husband was praying, my son suddenly stopped shivering and his temperature went back to normal. My son opened his eyes and told us: ‘I saw Christ on the cross looking at me, and he called me, saying: “child arise.”’ [When he said that] I couldn’t stand up. I fell down, kneeling next to my husband, crying and thanking this God I never knew. At that very moment, I gave my life to Jesus. 

“Often the story stops here: ‘And they lived happily ever after.’ I can tell you that this was certainly not the end of my story, but rather the beginning. 


"If we wanted to live, we had to become secret believers."

“We lived in a strictly Muslim village. From the outside, nothing had changed: I couldn’t suddenly stop wearing my veil. Converting to Christianity is seen as a shame for the family, something that radicals say should be forbidden. If we wanted to live, we had to become secret believers. 

Like many other converts from Islam in Egypt, Raina and her family had to follow Jesus in secret.

"If I showed you my face, it could cost me my life."

“If you’re a secret believer in a family, that family is your first church. Sameh and I do Bible study together, share Jesus with our children, and pray together. It’s a journey. We were never very close, [but] now we are learning what it means to support each other in marriage. 

“If you grow up as a Christian, I think you don’t realize how different your worldview is compared to that of Islam. The things I learned about myself ever since I was young—harmful things—are engraved deep into my soul: ‘You have no value, you have to hide yourself.’ It takes time to fully let go of those convictions. 

an illustration of a family praying together in Egypt

“I was invited to the women's seminars put on by Open Doors’ local partner. [They] were so helpful for me in that perspective. Sisters helped me to overcome the traumas of my past and God Himself told me that I am of value—that I am in fact His beloved daughter! 


"The hardest part of the journey was watching my children suffer."

“The hardest part of the journey was watching my children suffer. They had to leave behind their family, their friends and their school as well and get adjusted to a different life with less money. They are raised as Christians inside the house, but outside the house they have to live as Muslims, like us. 

“It broke my heart when my oldest son said to me one day: ‘Why did God save me from death? I’d rather have died than have this life.’ He became depressed and didn’t want to go to school anymore, he was too afraid to make a mistake and reveal he was a Christian. Being new believers ourselves, Sameh and I found it hard to deal with these questions. 

an illustration of two boys in the back of a car
Raina's sons had their lives turned upside down when their parents found Jesus.

“We talked about the situation with people from the ministry, but what helped most was that my son was invited to a camp for Christian children in the same situation. He made a lot of friends there. He doesn't feel so alone anymore and is happy again. He even tells his little brother Bible stories now. 

an illustration of a happy boy in a doorway
Raina's son was overjoyed when he returned from a Christian children's camp.

“Recently, a new chapter in our story started: We now have a discipleship group in our home, a house church. I am a clever lady; I just never had the chance to develop myself. The ministry is offering us leadership training, and I am excited to start it. 
an illustration of a gathering of people in a small house churchHouse churches can mean everything for secret believers.

"Changing everything in life was not an easy step, but God was supporting us all the time."

"Please pray for us if you read this. Changing everything in life was not an easy step, but God was supporting us all the time and we were able to move on. We decided as a family that we will not give up. God is good.” 

Open Doors, through its local partners, supports believers from a Muslim background throughout Muslim-majority countries through different types of discipleship training and practical support. With your help, we can continue to support families like that of Rania and Sameh. Please continue to pray for them and for others in Egypt who risk everything to follow Jesus.

An illustration of a happy family

*For security reasons, we've changed the names in this article

please pray
  • Praise God for Raina and her family's miraculous encounter with God, and His faithfulness in standing with her
  • That Raina and her family would be protected from attack and able to have Christian community
  • For all Open Doors local partners to know God’s guidance as they seek to serve converts in the region.
Please give
Will you see the hidden persecution of Christian women and equip them for change?
  • Every HK$235 could provide three persecuted women with a Bible in her language.
  • Every HK$355 could help a woman or girl receive trauma care so she can heal and realise her God-given identity and worth.
  • Every HK$470 could train four women to withstand persecution with courage and confidence.
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