(Image used for illustrative purpose only)
The country is often in the news recently because of Al-Qaeda, the civil war and the Saudi-Arabia led military intervention in the country. The Yemeni people suffer because of the war and its consequences. Among them is the country’s small Christian community. We met with the couple Mohammad* (44) and Alima* (38) and listened to their story of how God is at work in this very strict Islamic country
Looking at their appearance, no one would say Mohammad and Alima are Christians. Her hair is completely covered with a pink-coloured scarf. No Yemeni Christian will openly show that he or she is a follower of Jesus. When we talk, their two boys, 10 and 3 years old, hang around with us.
It was about 17 years ago that Mohammad came to know Jesus Christ. “One day I found a Bible in a second-hand shop. Curious to know the content, I bought the book. I couldn’t read the Bible at home, that would not be safe. I had to hide the book and read it outside the house. One day, some of my colleagues saw me reading; they laughed about it, wondering why I would read this. But some of them were also interested in the gospel.” Reading the Bible brought Mohammed to his knees, and he turned into a follower of Jesus.
‘I THOUGHT I WAS THE ONLY BELIEVER IN YEMEN’
“When I came to faith, I thought I was the only believer in Yemen. For a long time, I didn’t know any other Yemeni Christians. Now I know many, and there are many more like me.” He remembers how joyful his first encounter with another Yemeni Christian was. “We laughed together. Later I met with others, even some who converted before the year 2000. I heard about missionaries who had worked in our country. I needed to grow in my faith and in my knowledge of the Bible first, before I could get baptized.”
He received the discipleship training he needed and was baptized. “Soon after that, another believer asked me if I wanted to get married. This person knew Alima, who was still single and not promised to another man.” But, as Christians in Yemen are a rarity, Alima was a Muslim. Still, they married.
She was certainly interested in Christianity and, at that time, Mohammad was for 90% sure she would become a believer too.
“I invited her to start reading the gospel. When Alima started doing so, she was touched, especially by the concept of loving your enemy.”
Alima: “Reading that, had a big impact on me. That would be a solution for many problems in Yemen. This is a thought I don’t find elsewhere in other religions. This verse made me search for other words of Jesus.”
GOD ANSWERED IN A SUPERNATURAL WAY
But something more was needed to win this woman for Christ too. God answered in a supernatural way.
Mohammad: “We saw miracles happening in our life which are almost too emotional to talk about. For seven years, because of health problems, we did not have another baby. We said to God that we wanted another child and we said that when God answered this prayer, we would follow him. In the same month she got pregnant.” Mohammad says.
“When he was born, we saw he had a cross on his face, just above his nose.” Meanwhile the little three-year-old is playing around.
Mohammad shares about another miracle. Once, while driving his car it started raining all of a sudden. “I don’t know how it happened, but I lost control of the car. The car started to slide, turning around and we literally were flying. We cried for Jesus’ help. In this moment of panic, which only lasted for a few seconds, I saw a white light in the form of a cross. It was as if this light carried our car and as if it placed our car softly next to the road. Nothing happened to us, no one got hurt, we didn’t even hit our heads or anything. Our oldest son was in the car too and, after the incident, he said: “That was nice, can you do that again?”
After that, we knew that God wanted to protect us. We understood how God took care of us. He continued to do so. For example, in this time of war many times we could only buy small amounts of food but we always managed to find enough for our family.”
HOUSE GROUP IN YEMEN
After the miracle of the pregnancy the couple became serious about their promise to God. At their home they started house groups, two for women, two for men.
Alima says: “I see real growth in the groups. They even bring other people. The interesting thing is that many of the group are quite well-educated. Some of the women bring their children to the house church meetings.”
House groups in Yemen do not have contact with each other. “We stay separated, and each group doesn’t know the whereabouts of other groups. This is so there can be no betrayal of others if a group is discovered,” Mohammad explains. “Security is very important for all of us. It is always a major concern.”
“We hope that the word of God will spread in Yemen and that Yemen will be won by Christ. That is our daily prayer. The church in Yemen is definitely growing,” he says with a radiant face. “That is what you hear everywhere. For example, some days there are more people wanting to meet with me than I am able to meet. We often hear of whole families coming to Christ.”
Because of them being Christians, the couple had to flee their country with their children. Now, far away from the Arabian Peninsula, they stay closely connected to the church in their homeland. Mohammad: “I hope that I will be able to minister through the media. When the war is over, I hope we can return to Yemen. I hope that one day I will see the church growing, bearing a lot of fruit. Nowadays the number of workers is very little in the country, we need to pray for more workers.”
Yemen ranks no.8 in 2020 WORLD WATCH LIST. Yemen is a country in the far southern point of the Arabian Peninsula, which has an estimated 28 million inhabitants, has seen for many years an ugly (civil) war.
*Names are changed for security reasons.
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