Celestin lost his mother in 2002, when he was just two-years-old. His father took sole care of him and they were well off—his father had successful coffee and chocolate farms. But as a family, they followed a tribal religion, where they would sacrifice animals, attempt to communicate with the dead and make offerings to idols. But a close friend of Celestin’s would introduce him to Christ.
While Celestin was traveling with his close friend throughout the Ivory Coast, he was introduced to Jesus. He heard a sermon where a pastor talked about God and eternal life. After asking his friend further questions about Jesus, he bowed his head before the Lord and asked Jesus to be his Savior. The news of his turning to Christianity quickly spread throughout his family.
Celestin’s father said, “You are my only son. Come back to our religion.” But Celestin declared he would never leave Jesus. A year later, his father died. Needing a place to live, Celestin moved in with his uncle.
“Your father died. Now I have to take care of you,” his uncle said. “If you don’t want to leave Jesus, I will not pay your school fees and you will get out of my house.” But Celestin continued to cling to Jesus. His uncle threw him out and, needing a place to stay, Celestin moved in with the friend that first introduced him to Christ.
Before his father’s funeral, Celestin’s family tried to bribe him back to their tribal religion. They said things like, “If you participate in your father’s funeral according to our tribal customs, then you can inherit his land, coffee farms and chocolate farms. If not, then you will not inherit anything from your father.”
Inheriting his father’s farms and land would have put Celestin well off. He’d have a place to stay—all his own. He wouldn’t have to struggle to find work and struggle to pay his bills. But still he refused to deny Jesus. He did not attend his father’s funeral. Following his decision, Celestin’s relatives disowned him.
Reflecting back on his decision not to attend his father’s funeral, Celestin says, “I refused to leave Jesus. I lost everything I would have inherited: his house, farms and plantations, because of my uncle’s persecutions. But my Jesus is more than all of these things to me.”
Celestin continues to face persecution from his family, but he keeps Mark 10:27 close to his heart: “Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.’” Celestin says, “God is on my side in my different persecutions. I put all my trust in Him.”
We’re inspired by Celestin’s faith, a persecuted Christian living in Burkina Faso. He gave up much-needed wealth and familial community. But he truly believes if you have nothing but Jesus, you have everything.
Celestin has passed along some prayer requests. Join us in praying now.
God, we’re inspired by the faith of our young brother—a faith that was able to deny wealth and community for a relationship with You. At this time we ask You hear our prayers for Celestin.
We ask that You continue to build his faith, so he won’t backslide and return to his old ways. We ask that You protect him from evil attacks—protect his spirit. We ask that You bless him with a job, where he’s able to provide for himself and buy necessities, like clothes. And we ask that You bring a strong woman into his life, that he will find a partner that will build him up and encourage his faith daily.
Lord, we ask that You pour out Your blessings on our brother. Amen.
*Name changed to preserve security
About the author
Tim Dustin is a writer for GCR, where he spreads the news of global persecution with the worldwide church. Read the latest Christian persecution stories on our website and learn more at GlobalChristianRelief.org.