NO TURNING BACK
In northern Nigeria, confessing Christ by word of mouth is not the only test of a believer’s sincere submission to the authority of Christ, particularly for those coming to Christ from Islam. A true follower of Jesus must be prepared to carry the cross, or else he falls away.
For 25 year old Akin, his cross came quickly. His father and uncle took him from the home of one Islamic scholar to another, trying to convince him to compromise his faith in Christ. But all their efforts proved fruitless. Finally, as a last resort, Akin’s family took him to an Islamic reformatory where he was told he’d accept Islam or die.
“There, I lived with thieves, murderers, alcoholics and drug addicts whose parents or relatives had brought them there to be rehabilitated. I did not belong there. Immediately, they had my hands and feet chained. The chains fastened on my legs were worse, as they joined the metals directly on my legs. They also beat me consistently. The experience was agonizing, but I had to endure, because I had seen the light in Christ and accepted it,” said Akin.
“They mistreated us, but mine was more severe because the Islamic teacher told them I had blasphemed against the prophet of Islam,” said Akin. “I wore the same shirt and trousers for nine months. I could not even wash them since I was chained, by hands and feet.”
After Akin had suffered nine months in chains under the cruel treatment of outcasts and the Islamic teacher, the Islamic teacher took Akin back to his father’s house in the village. “My father was very upset and asked the Islamic teacher to take me back, since I had not recanted my faith in Christ,” Akin said. But the teacher refused. “He handed me over to my father and left.”
Because staying with his parents would mean his death, he immediately fled to a pastor’s house for refuge. Akin stayed indoors for two weeks until the church relocated him to a more secure environment. Akin was discipled over the next two years, and then called into ministry.
Now in a Bible school, Akin still cannot go back home. The church in his village is small, with almost no means to support him. His Christian mentor is the only source of help for his school fees, books and provision of food.
“For me the battle continues, although I know it is Christ who rescued me,” says Akin. “This is a constant reminder that Christ actually gave up his life for me. My experience in that [Islamic reformatory] was just a part of the road that leads to eternity with Christ. He has told us the journey will not be easy, but we must press on, no turning back.”
Today I will persevere in following Jesus no matter what obstacles I face. I will not turn back.
Thank You, Lord, for the example of believers like Akin whose example imitates Yours in teaching me to follow after You, no matter the cost.