Persecution of Ex-Muslims (Chad)
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Christian convert persecuted by his Muslim family. Father-in-law seizes the "infidels" wife and insists he renounces new faith, eventually kills the convert's young son
His wife had already returned to her parents and their nomadic lifestyle, and Baki, a former Muslim and nomadic Fulani of the Bororo dialect in Chad, was looking forward to reuniting with her and their two children. But he said his father-in-law, having learned of his conversion, seized his wife and would allow her to go back with him only if Baki renounced his Christian faith.
“When I returned to take my wife and children away, my father-in-law told me point blank that he would not allow his daughter to stay with me, an infidel,” Baki told Compass. “In spite of all entreaties, my father-in-law refused to allow me to take my wife and children.”
For one year, Baki faced threats from family members to renounce his Christian faith. He refused, moving with them in their lives as nomadic cattle people. For about 30 minutes daily, he said, he would sit under a tree reading the Bible and praying as the cows grazed.
Threatened by his in-laws’ hostilities, Baki eventually left without his family. A few years later, he returned to try to convince his father-in-law to allow him to retrieve his wife and children. In the course of this confrontation, his father-in-law killed Baki’s young son on August 18, 2002.
“At the end of it all, he murdered my first son, Joshua, by poisoning him,” Baki said. “Having lost my first child, and with threats to my life, I had to leave without my wife, but [returning later] only succeeded in taking away our second son.”
Assurance of Divine Presence
Strengthening and protecting his faith during this period of hostility from his in-laws, Baki said, were several dreams in which Jesus Christ appeared to him, assuring him of his presence with him.
Baki’s journey toward Christ did not come without advance warning.
The journey began, he said, after listening to a gospel message on a cassette in the fulfulde (Fulani) language. An evangelist known as Pastor Musa played the tape for him and others at his home one day in December 1995.
“I, my father, one Abakar, and a cousin and brother were at home in the evening,” he said. “The message in the cassette said anyone who does not accept Jesus Christ will not have salvation. I had never heard such a message while I was a Muslim, as in Islam there is no guarantee that one can be saved.”
The message of salvation assurance kept him thinking, he said.
“When I heard this message that night, I decided that I had to accept Jesus Christ as my savior,” he told Compass. “I told Pastor Musa that I had decided to give my life to Christ. He urged me to think about it before I made a decision.”
That night, Baki summoned the courage to tell his father that he wanted to become a Christian. Shocked, his father warned him that he would not be able to withstand the persecution that would follow.
“He told me it was impossible to leave Islam, as that would mean I am committing suicide,” he said. “But I insisted that I must become a Christian. He looked up at me in the face and told me that he would not stop me, but that I should be prepared to face the consequences of my decision.”
Baki said he left his wife and two children and trekked for two days in the wilderness in search of Pastor Musa, who had left their Fulani settlement after playing the Christian message on tape for them. He finally found Pastor Musa in Ngudungudu town.
“I met Pastor Musa at Ngudungudu town, and I told him of my desire to leave Islam and become a Christian,” Baki said. “He led me in prayer to receive Jesus, and I stayed back there with him, listening to Christian messages on cassettes, since I could not read.”
In January 1996 Baki was baptized at the local congregation of Ngudungudu, which he simply calls Eglise Evangeligue (evangelical church).
After hostilities forced him to leave most of his family in Chad in 2002, Baki went back to Pastor Musa, who linked him with a western missionary in his country, Oscillia Geffelle. She took him to a mission station in Chad where he was trained in health basics. While the training helped Baki to treat patients and share the gospel, he had to leave his second son at an orphanage.
The once illiterate nomad who knew no other activity than tending cattle was now a health assistant in a Christian clinic, sharing the gospel with others.
Concerned about Baki’s safety in Chad, though, Geffelle sent him to a Bible school, Ecole Bibligue, in Tibarti, near Yaoundé in Cameroon in 2003. After finishing studies at the Bible school, Baki went to Nigeria in 2006 and spent one year studying the Hausa language.
Last year, he enrolled in a four-year diploma program at the Zalanga Bible College, a theological institution of the Evangelical Church of West Africa in Bauchi state. Zakariya Zwahu, principal of Zalanga Bible College, said Baki is doing well in the school.
Baki said God has been faithful but that he relies on the support of other Christians to remain in school to complete his studies.
Though he has been a fugitive from family threats for more than 11 years for becoming a Christian, Baki said he looks back with joy that he opted receive Jesus.“Trials and sufferings should not discourage anyone from following Jesus Christ,” Baki told Compass. “But then, Muslims who have made the decision to follow the true path, Jesus Christ, must remain steadfast.”
World Watch Monitor, February 7, 2008