Christians Overcome Hostility, Persecution from Muslim Missions
August 10, 2017
Speaking of indigenous missions – Islamists from various countries have recently stepped up support of indigenous Muslim missionaries in northern Ghana. Christian children are paying the price.
Christian kids have become targets as hateful teaching by indigenous Muslim leaders trickles down. A Christian boy was recently making his way home from middle school under the tropical sun of the West African country when a band of Muslim youths began tracking him. Other schoolchildren walking with Amani* fled, leaving him alone with the older boys as they neared a small market on a road lined with jungle foliage.
Amani's gut trembled. Calling him an "infidel" and accusing him of worshiping three gods, they tore his school uniform. He struggled to escape, but they tied him up and beat him with the ferocity of self-righteous rage. Anyone who might have heard his cries did nothing to help him.
Likewise, Muslim kids bullied a pastor's children after Islamists burned the church leader's farm to the ground. The pastor had resisted their various attempts to convert him, as he adamantly refused to renounce his faith in Christ. Muslim students at school verbally tore into his kids.
"They were raining insults against the parents and the whole family in a very abusive way, describing them as stupid, shameful, poor, and having no dignity," the director of an indigenous Christian ministry said. "These kinds of attacks take place at school compounds, parking lots, market areas, water wells, and other spots."
The missions are established by Islamists from Egypt, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. The Muslim leaders they support incite their followers to have nothing to do with non-Muslims.
Like Christian indigenous missionaries, the Muslim missions have set up high-quality schools. Unlike Christian indigenous missionaries, they do not allow kids of other faiths to attend. Christian parents would gladly send their children to the Muslim-run schools, as for some they are the only affordable ones they can reach.
"You have to be a Muslim to attend any of their schools or apply for a scholarship," the ministry director said. "But some Christian children have no option other than to attend the schools in their locality. They cannot afford to go elsewhere."
The missions are established by Islamists from Egypt, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, among others. The Muslim leaders they support in northern Ghana incite their followers to have nothing to do with non-Muslims, ratcheting up the shunning and discrimination. The Muslim missions make tractors available to Muslim farmers, but not to Christians, who are also denied credit and farm essentials such as seeds, fertilizer and weed killers.
"So all the converts in two villages had to forgo these benefits, and their children cannot enjoy the scholarships given to Muslim children," the director said. "If you are not a Muslim, you cannot access these benefits."
The wife of one former Muslim found her goods were boycotted at the local market after her husband became a Christian.
"She had to travel to Tamale to sell her goods," the director said. "That makes life very difficult for local people struggling, who can hardly make ends meet. The converts are really treated as second-class citizens."
Converts? The indigenous ministry has planted numerous churches throughout Ghana, but for two years in this northern area only three Muslims had shown the slightest interest in the good news of Christ's salvation. Recently the ministry decided to erect a canopy chapel – just four posts supporting a metal roof, with a small wall around it to keep goats and sheep away – between two of the area's gospel-resistant villages.
Against all expectations, 20 men from both villages showed up to help put up the structure. Amid the climate of fear created by the Muslim missions, some had secretly been drawn to the message of Christ's redeeming sacrifice. Others had inwardly put their faith in Christ after the ministry's Jesus Film screenings.
The building of the chapel without walls brought them out of hiding.
"They had the African spirit of communal labor, and they thought it was time to come out of their shell," the director said. "We have teams that show the Jesus Film. We are also engaged in micro-enterprise development programs for women, using Christian principles in training them."
Within two weeks, 45 new Christians, along with 50 children, were crowding into the chapel for Sunday worship services.
"They had seen the Jesus Film, and our church planters doing follow-up visitations have shared the gospel relevantly with many," the director said. "The building of the chapel was the trigger for them to step out."
These are the Christians now facing persecution – new to the faith, joyful in the face of material and social loss, yet desperately needing to feel the love of the brethren worldwide.
"These new converts have defied all odds to stand for Jesus," the director said. "You cannot imagine all the difficulties and abuses they are subjected to, following Jesus Christ. But see them singing with pure joy on their faces. Praise the Lord!"
Along with beatings, shunning and boycott, some new Christians have been poisoned. Their peace is rooted in spiritual encounter with the living Christ and the love they lavish on one another. Your willingness to show the love of the church universal with a monetary gift will help them overcome desperate material need.
* (names changed for security reasons)