Native North African Missionary Attacked on Christmas

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Native North African Missionary Attacked on Christmas

Celebrating Christmas in an area known as a training ground for Islamic terrorists nearly proved fatal for an indigenous missionary from northern Africa.

For eight years Mehdi* had ministered in a village in northern Africa. He and his wife worked discreetly in the dangerous neighborhood God called them to, where the Islamic State (ISIS) and other terrorist groups find rich soil for recruiting suicide bombers among the high percentage of radical Muslims and restless youths seeking purpose for their lives.

Islamic extremists from throughout North Africa and the Middle East also converge on the area in hopes that it will provide them a transit point to Europe. Mehdi’s mission was to offer the area’s hard-line Muslims the purpose of glorifying God by serving Christ, rather than trying to reach heaven by killing non-Muslims.

He worked quietly and wisely but with boldness. The native missionary had left Islam 17 years ago while working as a migrant worker in Europe. There he stumbled upon a gospel tract, and the Lord not only enabled him to understand the European language but opened his eyes to its Truth.

While spending the past eight years selling farm supplies, proclaiming Christ and receiving training and additional support from an indigenous ministry in the region, he and his wife oversaw the spiritual birth of secret believers, discipled them and planted two small home fellowships.

“The police were not involved, because everybody knows Mehdi is Christian, and no one minds if he dies,” the director of the indigenous ministry said.

They met for a Christmas Eve worship service in their usual secretive fashion, with no more than one or two people at a time arriving at the house’s white-walled interior with its geometric, Arabic-style tiles. They did not know hard-line Muslims from Morocco — neighbors who had long known he and his wife were “infidels” — were paying especially close attention and had figured out what was going on.

With suspicions confirmed that Muslims were coming to Christ through Mehdi’s efforts, the radicals made special Christmas Day plans. When he arrived home from an outing on the night of Dec. 25, they were waiting for him with the punishment decreed for apostates — death.

“They were in hiding waiting for me, and they stoned me until they thought they had killed me,” Mehdi said.

Unconscious and bleeding, some of his bones broken, Mehdi was left for dead.

The couple knew that area Islamists were aware that they were Christians, as the radicals had tried to attack him before, though he had always managed to escape. The past two years he found it increasingly difficult to make a living as more and more local Muslims refused to buy his farm products. A month before the Christmas Day attack, the hard-line neighbors broke the bicycle he used to transport his goods.

After the Christmas Day assault, Mehdi and other Christians didn’t bother to report it to police, as any officers who might be unsympathetic to the radical Muslims would not have had the nerve to buck local Islamist sentiment.

“The police were not involved, because everybody knows Mehdi is Christian, and no one minds if he dies,” the director of the indigenous ministry said.

The ministry leader seeks assistance for Mehdi’s immediate and long-term needs. Few have health insurance in this area of the world, and Mehdi will need surgery after addressing his immediate medical needs.

Besides his medical costs, Mehdi also will need assistance relocating and covering his monthly expenses as he and his wife continue their ministry, the director said.

“Some of them prefer to take the risk and work among the radicals, like Mehdi in the last eight years,” he said. “But in this case we have to move them, because they have been there sharing the gospel for years and have been persecuted, and we know they will kill them.”

Most ISIS and other Muslim extremist group leaders from the region were trained in the area where Mehdi had ministered, he said.

“So the only option for them is to escape to save their lives and start a new life,” he said. “We are thinking of bringing them to another place, but we need resources to do it.”

He requested prayer for protection and wisdom. Please consider a gift to help Mehdi recover his health and his calling to bring eternal life in Christ to his fellow countrymen.

*Name changed for security reasons