Nadhir gave up bad habits, and faced family rejection, but has become a light to isolated North African believers
Church leader Nadhir* has led a life that is at odds with his calling.
The 28 year old was a rapper, and led a self-indulgent lifestyle familiar to many young people in the West. He smoked marijuana, drank alcohol and enjoyed clubbing.
But he gave all this up following the breakdown of a friendship.
What he didn’t know was that this was a turning point. It helped him find his calling, but also led to rejection by his family.
Ten years ago Nadhir was still reading the Koran and visiting his local mosque in North Africa. But he soon dropped away as he became more involved in the rap scene.
Looking back he says: “My first step in rap was the first step towards my big sin.”
Nadhir’s childhood friend was a rapper, and so he too became involved. They ended up facing each other in a rap battle. “During the clash my friend said many bad things, so I said afterwards never talk to me again.”
Three months passed before Nadhir saw his friend. “I was in a coffee shop. He came over to me and asked my forgiveness for what had happened.”
Nadhir had never heard his friend speak like this – about forgiveness. They sat down together and Nadhir’s friend began telling him about Jesus.
“It was like this is what I had been searching for all my life. I thought this is what I need. I need Jesus.”
A new phase began in Nadhir’s life. He wanted to learn all he could about Christianity. He borrowed a Bible, and read about Christianity in books and on the internet.
He describes God’s help in the early part of his journey of faith. “It was like how Jesus took the hand of Peter as he walked on the water. He said to me: ‘Stay with me, stand with me’.”
Nadhir’s family noticed the changes in him. He’d stopped drinking and going to clubs. He’d turned over a new leaf.
They were curious about this new behaviour. His mother followed him into his room one day and saw his Bible. Nadhir told her he was now a Christian. She asked why he had become a Christian when his whole family were Muslims. His mother told him to go to his room and not talk to her about it anymore. Nadhir’s father had a stronger reaction.
“He said take all your clothes and leave the house. I do not want to see you again. I will go to the authorities and remove your name from my family. My father told my boss to stop employing me because of my faith.”
His father told the Imams at the mosque that his son was now a Christian. They advised putting his son in prison, and even killing him.
Without much money, Nadhir lived on the street for a while, eating other people’s garbage. Eventually he found shelter with another Christian, and soon after began searching over the internet for other Christians across North Africa.
He first found other believers from a Muslim background on Facebook. They encouraged each other through regular messages.
“My relationship with my family was cut off, but God gave me wonderful relationships with new people.”
Nadhir now travels to many places to meet the other Christians he meets online. He also allows those Christians nearby to meet in his home, where he leads them in a house church.
But Nadhir’s main way of reaching new Christians is through his broadcasting. He speaks to new believers over an internet-based radio station. His confident and articulate style draws on the skills he developed as a rapper.
Nadhir still has ambitions. “In North Africa many people like to meet and drink coffee. I have a dream to set up a coffee shop, where I can share with many more people about Jesus.”**
His Christian friends don’t only meet on Sundays. They meet throughout the week to socialise, and encourage and support each other, as if they are a family.
As a Christian, Nadhir met and married his wife, though his own family did not attend the wedding.
For many Christians from a Muslim background it is family who are the worst persecutors. But Nadhir sees hope for reconciliation here.
“My father phoned me after the wedding and said he was sorry but he couldn’t come because he had no money. He was crying.”
Nadhir told his father he would be praying for him, and from that moment things changed.
“We are now like friends, we laugh together, and we talk a lot. My family ask me when I will be visiting them and when can they visit me. Now me and my family have a nice time together when we talk. God listened to my prayer.”
*Real names and country are not disclosed for security reasons.
**Open Doors recently provided Nadhir with a micro loan to help kick-start his dream of opening a coffee shop.
Open Doors supports the persecuted church in North Africa through:
- Literature distribution
- Socio-economic development