“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:10) This promise is among many that Christians all over the world hold onto. For thousands in Nigeria, it is not just a Biblical principle but a reality that they live out. They are oppressed and even killed, some by their own families.
Habiba’s story is one such example.
Born into a Christian family in Kaltungo, Habiba was an intelligent child treasured by her parents and diligently served in the church. However, as she grew older, she became rebellious and accepted a marriage proposal from Musa, a Muslim man. He swore he would never forcefully convert her.
Musa kept his promise for years until he moved his family to his native village. The village had no church but Habiba continued identifying as a Christian. One day, Musa asked her “Are you still holding onto that religion of yours?” Habiba was stunned into silence. That question marked the beginning of emotional and physical abuse from her husband. He ignored her, denied her food, and made death threats. He insisted she renounce her faith, but she would not—so he amped up the abuse. Desperate, she converted to Islam hoping that would make him stop. It did not.
Musa battered her and even married a second wife. Habiba became less of a wife and more of a slave. When his second marriage crumbled, he moved his family back to Kaltungo. Habiba secured a job in a school. Musa was against it, but she stood her ground. It helped her provide for their eight children and free herself financially from him. Influenced by some of her colleagues, she also began to re-visit her Christian background. When Musa caught her reading a friend’s Bible one day, he confiscated it and marched her to the local imam who issued a stern warning. Soon after, he left her and the children, moved back to his village, and took another wife. Depressed, Habiba blamed herself for all her problems.
Maxwell, a TTI trainer, was one of her colleagues. They talked about faith quite often and he repeatedly urged Habiba to turn to Christ. He even gave her an audio Bible to listen to. Jesus’s words in John 14:6 struck her. She felt ashamed and regretted her sins. She craved the freedom found in Christ. Maxwell prayed with her and she found salvation.
Maxwell introduced her to Richard, a TTI church planter who disciples her. Despite many in her community being oppressed and killed because of their faith, she looks forward to sharing her testimony. Let us continue to pray for the protection of Christians like Habiba and Maxwell, who are fearlessly choosing Christ in the face of persecution.
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