Leaving PERSECU ION Islam ... why it is so difficult for Muslims to convert to Christianity. You see,

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  • Leaving Islam Muslim-background believers often face violence and ostracism from friends and family







    In This Issue




    Regular Features

    OVERVIEW 14 | A Heavy Cost The stories of two Muslim-background believers (MBBs) reflect the plight that many converts from Islam face. FEATURE 16 | An Unshakable Faith An MBB in Morocco proclaims the message of the Gospel during his own criminal trial. FEATURE 18 | ICC’s Underground Railroad The story of a Christian convert who benefited from ICC’s MBB underground railroad and rescue operation. FEATURE 20 | Iran’s Paul A former persecutor of Christians and member of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard works to prepare churches for potential persecution. FEATURE 22 | Afghanistan’s Secret Church The radical story an underground MBB ministry leader in Afghanistan. FEATURE 24 | The Choice For MBB parents, their child’s education is fraught with danger. FEATURE 26 | Operation Rescue How does ICC work to aid this suffering part of the body of Christ?

    3 Letter from the President A few words from ICC’s president, Jeff

    King, on MBBs’ faith and sacrifice.

    4 World News A snapshot of the persecution that

    impacts our brothers and sisters daily, in every corner of the world.

    8 Your Dollars at Work Learn how your gifts are providing

    comfort, relief, Bibles, education, and vocational training to the persecuted.

    12 Volunteers Learn how members of ICC’s volunteer

    teams are making an impact in their communities for the persecuted.

  • Jeff King, President International Christian Concern


    Islam is more than a religion. Western Christians rarely grasp the full force of that statement. Muhammad was a warlord, a religious leader, and the ruler of a country. Over the course of his rule, his teachings did not stop at the mosque; they permeated all of society, impacting family, lifestyle, culture, government, war, etc. He codified harsh punishments for transgressors into the fabric of Islam’s religious text.

    Islam is more than a religion. It is an all-encompassing impetus. If you understand that, you will begin to understand why it is so difficult for Muslims to convert to Christianity.

    You see, all too often these Christian converts lose everything: their future, inheritance, education, friends, and even their families. They are beaten, raped, kidnapped, and killed for leaving Islam.

    Most turn away when Jesus asks them to sell everything and follow Him, especially when the cost is so high.

    However, those who do come to Christ are often the most fervent and brave of believers. They stay in their countries, their communities, and their churches to be a witness for Christ. They have placed all of their life’s work, time, and wealth onto the middle of the table. They are betting on Jesus.

    Though they typically lose all that they feared they would, they win more than they could have imagined.

    That is why the MBB (Muslim-background believer) is my hero.

    Their fervency, devotion, and desire to lead their Muslim brothers and sisters to new life in Christ despite the cost teaches me a deep lesson about true faith and devotion.

    They are worthy of my time, treasure, and talent, and I find it a privilege to serve them.

    In Christ, Jeff King

    And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’” And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.” And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

    Mark 10:17-22 (ESV)



    The Islamic State Declared Officially Defeated 1 | SYRIA On March 23, the Syrian Democratic Forces declared that the Islamic State (ISIS) was officially ter- ritorially defeated. The announcement came after the extremist group lost its final stronghold in the Middle East during the battle of Baghouz, located near the Iraqi border.

    Following the battle in Baghouz, several individu- als who had been held captive by ISIS were liberated. While this news was cause for celebration, the situation on the ground remains unstable. Although the threat has lessened in recent years, ISIS remains active in pockets of territory throughout Syria and Iraq. Thousands of captives remain missing and the destruction left behind by ISIS renders it nearly impossible for many displaced Christians to return home.

    Additionally, even though ISIS has been territorially defeated, the ideological impact remains. Majid, a local Christian, shared, “ISIS 2.0 is something possible. ISIS is still [here]… the only difference is that they threw down their weapons, and they will pick them back up at any weak point.”

    As Christians and other religious minorities begin to return to their homes, they must face the reality of rebuilding their livelihoods from the ground up. Worse still, they must come face to face with the ideology of violence and discrimination that has embedded itself in their society.

    Abducted and Forcefully Converted Woman Finally Returned to Family

    3 | PAKISTAN On February 25, Saima Iqbal was kidnapped and forcibly converted to Islam on the outskirts of Pakistan’s capital city of Islamabad. According to Morning Star News, Saima’s husband Naveed immediately contacted the police, but they refused to assist him. Rather, the police contacted the kidnap- per, Muhammad Khalid Satti, and informed him that Naveed was filing a report. The police also told Naveed that Saima had married Satti, urg- ing him to drop the case.

    Ignoring the authori- ties’ suggestion, Naveed continued to pursue the case and even- tually reached the Superintendent of Police. Shortly after Saima was found, police forced her to make a statement, declaring that she had converted and married Satti freely. Saima and Naveed took to social media, which eventually caught the attention of Pakistan’s federal gov- ernment. Thankfully, Satti has since been arrested, Saima has returned home, and sev- eral of the local police officers have been fired for criminal negligence.

    Unapologetic Human Rights Abuser Takes Control of Iran’s Judiciary 2 | IRAN On March 8, Ebrahim Raisi was sworn in as the new Judiciary Chief of the Islamic Republic of Iran. This appointment comes with a five-year term, as approved by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. In light of this new development, Christians throughout Iran are concerned due to Raisi’s lengthy history of human rights abuses.

    Raisi first garnered attention in 1988 after participat- ing in Iran’s infamous death commission, which led to the murder of thousands of political prisoners who were deemed “apostates of Islam.” He has remained unapologetic for his actions, referring to the 1988 kill- ings as “one of the proud achievements of the system” in a 2018 speech.

    Raisi studied as an Islamic religious cleric at Qom Seminary and gradually climbed the judicial ladder. Following his time in seminary, he served as a prosecu- tor, deputy chief justice, and attorney general. After an unsuccessful bid for the presidency in 2017, he became a primary contender for the Judiciary Chief position.

    As discontent for the Iranian government’s policy of enforced hardline Islam grows, the government contin- ues to crack down harder on religious minorities. Dr. Hormoz Shariat of Iran Alive Ministries shared, “Their strategy is to arrest a few, but publicize their arrest to put fear in the hearts of 1-3 million Christians and make them isolated, fearful, and prisoners in their homes.”

    1 2 3 5





    Chinese Authorities Ban Major House Church in Beijing

    5 | CHINA On March 23, more than 20 police officers and other authorities raided a Bible class at Shouwang Church in Beijing, China. The officials ordered the Christians to cease their activities immediately, and then read an official notice that formally banned the church from meet- ing. After several hours of detainment and interrogation, the churchgoers were eventually sent home. However, the authorities placed new locks on the doors to prevent members of the church from returning to their facil- ity. Shouwang Church is one of Beijing’s largest house churches, home to over 1,000 worshippers. The congrega- tion has been targeted since 2011 for refusing to become a state-sanctioned church.

    Pastor Severely Beaten by Unknown Assailants in Nepal

    7 | NEPAL On March 15, Pastor Dhruk Kumar was abducted by a group of unknown assailants on motorbikes in Nepal. Pastor Kumar reported that the men brought him to a remote part of the jungle an