Father and Son on the streets of North Africa (Image For Reference Only)

A stone almost hits Simon’s* face. The little boy is startled. He is holding tightly to his father’s hand as he walks through the streets of a North African town. Another stone flies in their direction. They see the object in time and are able to duck in time. Today no stones hit them, but they are not always this lucky.

Simon is scared. He gets closer to his dad. He looks with his big, brown eyes up to his father. The man looks down at him. “Let’s go home son.” Simon can’t hide his disappointment. They were on their way to eat an ice cream together on this hot day at the edge of the Sahara desert. But Muslih, his father, is convinced and had already turned around to take the shortest way home. Muslih knows that his son is upset. He understands but sees no other option.

“Why do we go home?” The boy asks, but he already knows the answer. “For your own protection,” his father says. With his hands he runs over the hair of the 5-year-old boy. In silence he prays to God: “Father, this is so difficult. I don’t want my son to suffer like this.”

Father and son enter the house again. Muslih closes and locks the door, only after having a last look over his shoulder. No one followed them. “Daddy, why do people throw stones at us? Why don’t the people like us, what have we done wrong?” A smile appears on the face of Muslih. “Simon, we are different because we serve the Lord, we follow Jesus. The people in our town have another religion, they don’t accept people being different.”

“They threw stones at us again,” Muslih says to his wife, Fadila. “How are you Simon?” she asks. He shrugs. “Okay, but I didn’t get my ice cream.”

“We will go and buy you one in the coming week,” she responds. “But now we pray for these people.”

Both parents started praying with their son every time another incident takes place. They want their son to find refuge in God in these kind of situations. They pray. Even the little boy asks forgiveness for the stone throwers.

Muslih: “Knowing that God has called us helps me a lot. When I think of all the intolerance and of how aggressive the people are, it is reassuring to know that God has called us. Sometimes we are afraid, but Jesus is always with us. The pressure is lessening. It helps me to know that people are praying for us. It’s good to see that things are getting better.”

*Names changed for security reasons