Backlash doesn’t stop Dereje
Dereje, a 30-year-old in Ethiopia, is one of few Christians in his family. He was raised in a traditional Muslim home; his parents and three of his brothers still practice Islam.
At one time, he and his brother hated Christians. “Many times, we went to the church compound with other Muslim friends and stoned the roof of the church while the believers worshipped,” he says. “We alienated the students from a Christian background. We considered them foolish.”
But all that changed in 2002 when two missionaries shared God’s Word with him. It wasn’t the first time Dereje had heard the message of salvation, but it was the first time the message resonated with him. After that, he received a Bible League Project Philip Bible study booklet. “I started to read it in secret,” he says. “It was forbidden to do such things—both in my family and in the Islamic religion. I couldn’t even share it with my eldest brother.”
He felt pulled to accept salvation, but he was hesitant. His cousin, a believer, encouraged him. “Because I feared backlash from my family and the challenges I would face from all Muslims, I didn’t accept his request,” he says. “But as time went on, I decided to receive Jesus Christ and asked my cousin to take me to church.” That night, he stood before the congregation and confessed his sins and received salvation. “That day was so special. I felt different and joy filled my heart. But the days after were not easy for me and my family.”
Dereje’s closest friends shunned him. Even his extended family began harassing him, trying to convince his own father to throw him out. When his father would not, relatives turned on the whole family, even refusing to provide a burial site when Dereje’s brother tragically died. Despite the pushback, Dereje continued to grow in his faith. He joined a Project Philip Bible study and learned more and more about Jesus. He developed a passion for supporting needy people and sharing the Gospel.
Today, he is a youth fellowship leader at his church and he’s introduced Project Philip to his students. “Project Philip Bible study booklets impacted the youth and children and became a means of Christian fellowship in the church,” he says. “The materials helped the youth know each other and help each other. They also developed a desire to evangelize and share the Word of God.”
Dereje is extremely grateful to Bible League supporters who provided materials that changed his life and his community. “Now, I am strong in my faith and find refuge in the Lord. There’s no more fear of persecution or death,” he says.
Former Life Changed by the Gospel
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Yousef, 32, serves as a Bible teacher in the Middle East, where sharing the Gospel is not permitted. Even though it’s against the rules, Yousef is still dedicated to his mission.
Nepal, in south Asia, is home to Mount Everest, the world’s highest peak situated in the Himalayan Mountains. The prevalence of Hinduism and the influence of communism within the country means stiff opposition to Gospel evangelism. In fact, new anti-conversion laws make it difficult for Christians to share that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. Despite these challenges, the Church is blossoming. Bible League International programs are vital to this growth as you’ll hear from host Michael Woolworth and his guest, Ram Hari (last name withheld for security reasons) in this 17-minute Action Podcast.
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