Maimed for Christ: the convert who lost his arm as the price for his faith

A busy market in the Horn of Africa.(Photo: Open Doors International)

During the Muslim prayer month of Ramadan, Christian converts in some Islamic nations who are no longer living out their Muslim faith are easier to spot. There is increased pressure for secret Christians and greater risk that their new-found faith will be discovered. If that happens, their family or community may attempt to kill them.

"Before I found Christ, I lived with my Muslim parents and wider family in a town in the Horn of Africa. We were small-scale farmers like most people in my area. Then I met some Christians who told me about Jesus. I had always been inquisitive and wanted to find out more. So, I visited those Christians a few times. I was drawn to their love for God and for other people. I decided that their religion was the true faith. I got baptised and when I married, my wife followed me in the faith."

This is Abda, a Christian convert who chose his new path despite the real danger coming from groups of radical Muslims in his community.

Abda's family and relatives knew about his new religion but told him to hide his faith as much as possible. They did not like his and his wife's decision to become Christians, but they allowed them to continue living in their area.

As Christians cannot openly meet and there are no churches there, Abda and his wife had to organise their meetings with other Christians secretly. They met at each other's houses to listen to radio programmes together or to have Bible studies. They often changed the locations and times of their meetings not to get caught.

"Some radical Muslims soon found out about my conversion. They started secretly following me to locations of Christian fellowship. They even filmed me," Abda shares with the Christian charity Open Doors.

"One day they set a trap for me. While I was with some other Christians in my house, those radicals attacked us. They chased away the other Christians and then started beating me. They thought that I was the leader of that group, because the meeting was in my house. They said that they didn't want this foreign religion in their village. They left me for dead."

Abda regained consciousness two days later and found himself in a local clinic. His relatives had brought him there. The radicals had damaged his arm so badly that it needed to be amputated.

"I was afraid that my life would now be even more difficult because with only one arm I would not be able to farm and provide enough food for my family," Abda said.

Although his family took care of him when he was attacked, they shunned him and his wife. That meant that nobody from their village or family would ever help the disabled man with anything. But not all doors were closed.

Open Doors contacted Abda and gave them animals to support their farming. The couple were able to take care of themselves and earn a living.

"I don't need to be a secret Christian anymore, since everybody now knows about my faith. And I have already sacrificed my arm for Christ, so I don't think life can become more difficult than it already is," says Abda.

"I openly walk to places where idlers sit around and I tell them about the happiness I found in Christ."

Open Doors UK & Ireland is part of Open Doors International, a global NGO network which has supported and strengthened persecuted Christians for over 60 years and works in over 60 countries. Open Doors provides practical support to persecuted Christians such as food, medicines, trauma care, legal assistance, safe houses and schools, as well as spiritual support through Christian literature, training and resources.