Yemeni woman in the old city of Sanaa, wearing her veil while doing shopping (Image used for illustrative purpose only)
Nadeen*, a born and raised Yemeni woman in her late twenties, is not new to the faith. Before a civil war broke out in her country in 2015, she had already accepted Christ. A foreign Christian lady she met at university was able to read the Bible and pray with her once a week; attending classes gave Nadeen an excuse to leave home. When she graduated, it became more difficult for her to see the woman because she no longer had a reason to leave home. Eventually, the woman left the country leaving Nadeen alone. “After this woman left my country, I didn’t have the opportunity to meet with other believers anymore,” she shares.
Her family was unaware of her faith, and as a single woman in a strict Muslim family it was difficult for her to leave the house alone. “They strictly controlled everything I did. But in my heart I longed to participate in prayer meetings with other believers and learn more.”
Months went by and Nadeen didn’t meet with any other believer in person. “But I had a Facebook account, and that was where I met another believer who was participating in a Facebook group he had started.”
Several believers from Nadeen’s area met online in this group to share their experiences and testimonies. “Online, we prayed together and we asked the questions that we had about faith in Christ and about God,” Nadeen says.
Eager to experience real community
Through this online fellowship, she even learned that there was a secret community of believers in her city. “I had always been eager to experience the real community of local believers and not just the virtual one that I knew online.”
Gradually, the trust between the believers grew, and Nadeen was able to meet some of these believers after she got a job at a bank, giving her a reason to leave the house on weekdays so she could meet them after work. And that is how she met this man, a doctor and also a believer from a Muslim background. Under the counsel of the elders in this local community, they agreed to get married. “God made a way for me to get married to this believer from the local faith community, and he introduced me to the actual church that I had wanted to meet for so long! I consider my marriage to be an expression of the grace of God.”
After her marriage – relieving Nadeen from most of her family’s pressure – she moved from a world where there was no one else like her to a real believing community. “Because of my marriage I am now able to serve and share the Gospel freely from a safe situation and to be discipled by my husband.”
Islamic marriage with a Christian blessing
Nadeen looks back on the day of her wedding with gratitude since she was able to share this special day both with her natural family and her spiritual family. Only Islamic wedding rituals are allowed in Yemen. “I had an Islamic wedding that was arranged by my family,” she shares. “But all those traditional celebrations were nothing compared to the half hour when we met with our Christian family and the elders who blessed our marriage in Christ. My husband and I felt the presence of God in a very strong way, and I was very happy to see other believers and their families there. The sight of the children and the worship songs we sang and the celebration of communion on that day was more than I could have hoped for!”
By choosing to keep her faith in Christ from her family initially, Nadeen made it easier for her and her husband to stay in Yemen. Some believers chose to expose their faith to their families soon after they came to faith, which often resulted in them fleeing the country. When they eventually get married abroad, they have already been cut off from their families and social networks. By submitting to her family’s traditions upfront, Nadeen has been able to keep these relationships, and she and her husband are now able to share with them in God’s timing. After she got married, in the early days of the civil war, Nadeen also got baptized together with another new believer. “It was a really special day. My husband participated in baptizing me, and I was so happy that I got baptized. I really can’t describe what I felt when I heard the words, ‘I baptize you in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.’”
Nadeen gives thanks to God for all these events. “This reminds me that ‘all things work together for good’.” The new family is determined to stay in Yemen and build on God’s kingdom there.
Please pray for women like Nadeen in Yemen:
- Pray for single women believers to have opportunities to fellowship with local faith communities.
- Pray that God will increase opportunities for local believers in this country to marry other believers and establish believing households.
- Pray that God will reign over every corner of Yemen and that praise and worship in the name of Jesus will be heard in every part of the nation.
*Name and other details changed for security reasons
This story was shared by an active BMB community in Yemen, which is connected to the platform www.capvoices.com. The platform exists to help raise awareness about the existence of local BMB communities on the Arabian Peninsula and give them a place to securely share their teaching, worship, testimonies and other media with a broader audience.
STAND WITH YOUR CHURCH FAMILY
Yemen ranks number 8 on the 2019 World Watch List. The civil war in Yemen has caused much suffering the country. About 80% of the population is in dire need of humanitarian aid. The Yemeni church is now mainly composed of a few thousand indigenous believers from a Muslim background. They form small home fellowships, encourage one another. If discovered, these secret believers face arrests, mental and physical abuse, even honour-killings. Some believers have had to flee as a result of threats against their lives.
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