Open Doors - Secret Children 3 - July August 2011
Secret Children: The hidden victims of the persecuted church
Mustafa and his wife have two sons. They’re both called Amir. Mustafa had been brought up as a Muslim, but when he became a Christian, his own mother turned against him and tipped off the police.
As they raided his house and dragged him away, she shouted and cursed at Mustafa. Amir watched in horror. He was only three. He thought he’d never see his father again.
Three months later, Mustafa returned home, traumatised by days of interrogation but determined to follow Jesus, and his family with him. But it was going to have to be a secret. So when Amir started school, his parents warned him he would have to live two different lives: at home he was free to love Jesus – at school he would have to keep it quiet.
But it was hard. At school he was gifted and popular, keen on both football and art – but at home he was wetting the bed. Whenever he got stressed, he lost control. His parents tried to make him stop. It got worse.
Finally, two years ago, they took Amir to a counsellor, who suggested that the cause might be something in his past. Amir remembered seeing his father being dragged away, insulted in front of his eyes. He was scared it could happen again. Seeing a Christian psychologist helped him face the fear and fight it by trusting the Lord. After 18 months, the problem began to go away.
But that wasn’t the end. He was still living two lives.
Out on the street, he played ball with his friends, but when they left for the mosque, he would make his excuses and go home. They gathered outside his house, insisting that he join them. He never went.
Eventually, it leaked out that he was a Christian. At school and on the street, they ganged up on him, calling him an infidel. Whenever he approached, they would shun him, leaving him alone.
So now he goes to a club far away from his friends, where he can mix with Christian children who don’t know he’s from a Muslim background.
Mustafa and his wife have two sons. They’re both called Amir. Perhaps one day both Amirs will become one.
Let me tell you a story ...
The children of the persecuted church often have to live two lives. In some countries they are identified as Muslim at birth, and it is impossibly dangerous to try to change their identity papers even if they or their parents change their religion. So official procedures or social pressures force people like Amir’s family to live as ‘secret believers’ on a wise, low-key level. If they are found out they can be physically abused. At the very least their books and their possessions can be taken from them.
Around the world, the secret children are isolated …
- In North Korea, where teachers test their pupils’ ability to keep secrets: “Do your parents read from a certain ‘black book’ at home?” they ask. A positive answer can spell disaster for the parents ... and therefore the children.
- In Algeria, where children from 4-5 years old have to learn the Qur’an by heart in school and where Christian literature and children’s Bibles can be confiscated.
- In Vietnam, where children are beaten for attending Christian activities and where some walk long distances to attend their weekly Sunday school. And in many, many other places.
Estimates vary, but there could be as many as 500,000 children in the Middle East who are secret Christians, unable to express their faith in public, forced to keep a secret for their own safety – and that of their parents.
Open Doors is meeting the needs of displaced children in Iraq through trauma counselling, emergency relief and income-generation loans to kick-start small businesses that provide for whole families. In Iraq and many other countries Open Doors produces special children’s Bibles, highly valued by children and parents.
These children need help. Not for one hour, not for one day, but for the long term.
Regular financial support will help us to provide Bibles, schools and medical aid; train and resource teachers; support trauma counselling; and help protect children from the storm of persecution.
£10 per month could give children books that show them that God loves them.
£22 per month could send an orphan to school.
£33 per month could provide counselling for traumatised children
To read more of the stories of the secret children and to make a donation go to: www.opendoorsuk.org/inspiremag