Joy in Kenya

The story of a mother and her two daughters and their fight to survive while following Christ

Joy was born and brought up in a non-religious family which would occasionally attend the Catholic church but as chance would have it, she met a Muslim man at the age of 19 fell in love and got married in the year 1993. She was willing to do anything to get married to the love of her life and she converted to Islam. She was enrolled for Madressah immediately after the marriage and she learnt about Sharia and all the laws of Islam and Quranic recitation. She was a staunch Muslim for 20 years and practiced Islam by praying 5 times a day and visiting the mosque for Friday prayers. She had two daughters in the marriage, Zahra and Layla.

She had a good life until 2013 when her marriage started going through turmoil and there were many disagreements between herself and the husband. She went through anxiety and depression. Her husband became violent and aggressive and she resorted to fast the Islamic way but there was no answer or any change.

One night she went through an anxiety attack, her heart was beating extremely fast, and she was sweating until her clothing became wet. It was around 3am at night and she had to go sit under the cold shower to cool off. In that state of confusion and attacks under a cold shower on the floor of the bathroom, she heard an audible voice asking her to put on the radio, which was in the sitting room. She went ahead to put it on and there was an early morning sermon going on about Joseph blessing his 12 sons each according to what he had done. (Gen 19).

Although this story had nothing to do with her circumstances then, it brought a lot of peace to her life. Something unique touched her and she was able to sleep peacefully with a wet towel on the sitting room. That was the beginning of peace in her heart despite the hostilities from her husband and the turmoil in her family.

The next day though, she spread her mat to pray her Islamic prayer as usual, but she could not recite even a single word! She was in a new world. In fact, a new person on the inside as it says “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he’s a new creation, behold the old is gone and the new has come” 2 Cor 517. She felt the urge to keep listening to the same preacher on the radio every day at the same time. She would sneak to the sitting room turning the knob of the radio, but she was never able to find the same preacher. Yet through this search she was able to listen to many more sermons across many channels. Her anxiety and depression disappeared, and her family problems were so much more bearable. She became so kind and loving despite the situation.

She knew the danger of exposing her new faith, it will affect her marriage and more so her two daughters. She knew that she will be declared and infidel and her two daughters who are rooted in Islam will be taken away from her.  She started bargaining with God that if indeed He was the one who spoke to her in that bathroom floor when she hit the rock bottom, He should change her children otherwise she will return to Islam.

God was silent until 2018, she got a Christian friend whom she confided about her secret faith, she was taken through the prayer of salvation, and God started showing up in amazing ways. All along she would spread the prayer mat and pray to the God of the Bible. Her elder daughter Layla went to law school and came back and told her mother she will no longer practice Islam as she doesn’t agree on how Sharia law is applied to women. She did not become a Christian though until 2020. The same year Zahra came from school and told her mother that she attended a Christian Union fellowship at her school and gave her life to Christ after a powerful prayer that send her to the ground and a great peace that followed. She therefore refused to go to the mosque for Friday prayers.

God has answered her prayer! She was in shock as both her daughters were now Christians and she made up her mind to follow Christ no matter what. The three of them refused to go to the mosque one Friday and her husband was mad about it but they had to tell him the truth.

The persecution started there. They were physically beaten and threatened to recant their new faith. There were occasional beatings and the atmosphere in the house was bad! One time Joy was beaten so badly that she couldn’t walk for three weeks. In December of 2020, when there was no change from his wife and daughters, the husband disappeared for a year and a half. He was the sole provider and the family were exposed to all financial problems. This was meant to intimidate them into submission and change their minds.

He reappeared in July 2022 and asked them whether they had changed their minds about their new faith, to which they responded that they had not. This made him so angry that he divorced Joy and disowned his two daughters. He is now married another woman who has 5 children. The first born dropped out of university permanently as she could no longer pay for college, and the younger joined college through the help of some Christian friends although there is still a huge bill of pending fees at the college. One of the daughters was to be enrolled to the Khartoum Islamic University and those plans were shattered too.

The family struggles daily to put food on the table and pay rent and they leave everything in the hands of the Lord who called them out of darkness to the His marvelous light.

You suffered along with those in prison and joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions. Heb 10:34

 

-Jeremy Ntato

Program Manager / Kenya and East Africa

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