When Faith Changes a Family
What are the implications for a Muslim family when one person becomes a follower of Christ, particularly within a culture that strongly identifies as Muslim?
A friend of mine called me today to ask if I could go to meet her and her friend, a new believer from a Muslim background. Her friend, Soraya, is worried about telling her family about her new faith.
Like many new believers from a Muslim background, Soraya is excited and amazed at God’s work in her life but that is balanced with her fear of telling her family. She is aware of the potential implications for her relationship with her family. Not only will how she tells them have an effect on their relationship but timing is also key.
Like many new Muslim-background believers, Soraya is eager to be fully engaged with her new faith community and she wonders if she needs to be baptised. We talk and pray with her about baptism and the right time to be baptized. We pray for wisdom and guidance about when and what words to use to tell her family about the changes in her faith. She needs the support of her brothers and sisters in Christ. We’re there to help her think through the decisions she must make.
The implications for Soraya’s family are deep – within their culture, they will be shamed by her decision to follow Jesus. When the extended family and community find out, Soraya’s family could be ostracized and her parents may find it difficult to find a husband for her sister. They may feel the need to disown her or pretend she is still a Muslim and ask her to keep her faith a secret from the rest of the family.
There is an Arab proverb that says, “If you want to know who I am, ask who we are”, which reflects the way many Muslims would define their identity and how connected they are to their family, extended family and community as well as their Islamic heritage.
How to Pray
- The world is becoming locally more diverse. Pray for people like Soraya who are introducing new ideas about faith into a traditional family or culture.
- Pray for Christians who support new believers from Muslim backgrounds to have sensitivity and compassion and provide strong support to new brothers and sisters.
- Pray from Matthew 19:29 for those who are rejected by their family and community because of their faith in Jesus.