‘I am not afraid of death’—Negash risked his life to leave Islam and follow Jesus

January 23, 2023 by Tim Dustin in Africa

“I had never held a Bible before,” Negash* says. In East Africa, Negash grew up in a Muslim family studying the Koran. As a young man, he became a militant follower of Islam. Later, he became a self-proclaimed extremist. He used his influence to oppose anything other than Islam … until someone gave him a Bible.

At the local shop owned by Negash, someone left a Bible behind as collateral for payment. At first, Negash was frustrated because the Bible had no value to him. He even tore out some of the pages to see if he could use them as packaging for sugar, but the paper was too thin.

Not long after the Bible appeared, Negash began to have strange dreams of a man in white. In the dream, the man said, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.” The dreams were both troubling and wonderful. “I was afraid, and at the same time, I wanted to see him again,” Negash says.

Later, Negash opened the Bible and found the matching passage in John 14. At this moment, Negash gave his life to Jesus and left Islam.

He didn’t know it at the time, but the road ahead would be full of persecution and pain, but it also had beautiful intimacy with Jesus and miraculous answers to prayer.

Persecution at every turn

Praying with Negash

Praying with Negash

Negash was so thrilled with his decision that he began witnessing to others, beginning with his family. “I told my family that Jesus saves and is everlasting life.” His family was angry with him, and soon the news spread to the entire community—Negash, the sheik, had now become Kafir, an infidel.

Negash began planting churches in the area, but persecution followed him at every turn. One night, as Negash was leading a house church with other believers, angry men splashed gasoline outside the house walls and lit it ablaze. Negash and the others barely escaped. “The fire burned our clothes, but it didn’t harm us. The men were amazed. I told them, ‘Jesus saves.'”

Negash was later beaten, tortured in ways that were too difficult to share, and pressured to leave Jesus and return to Islam. “I told them I would never deny Jesus,” he says.

Eventually, Negash had to leave his hometown to protect his family, but he continued his efforts in the region, planting 13 churches. Today, he continues to minister to the churches he helped start. He even travels covertly to his hometown to disciple believers in secret—even though it could cost him his life.

“I believe I will not die until God has finished his mission with me. I am not afraid of death,” Negash says boldly.

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‘I always cry for them’

When he thinks about the Muslims who’ve attacked him and threatened his life, he’s not bitter or angry; instead, he breaks down into tears. “I always cry for them,” he says, “We cannot say to the blind, ‘Why can’t you see?'”

Negash says that when Muslims, like himself, come to know Jesus in his region, they face many challenges—they often lose their homes, their inheritances, their families and even their lives. Still, they consider it all worth the cost to follow Jesus.

Listen to Negash share his story above

GCR is working with partners across the Muslim world to help Christians who’ve left Islam receive the critical support they need to survive and remain in their regions to be a light for the gospel. When you give to Global Christian Relief, you can help believers like Negash through Bible distribution, training and discipleship, church planting, emergency relief and much more.

*Representative name and photo used for security

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