Life for a believer from a Muslim background can be lonely in war-torn Yemen, especially for a single woman.
Nadeen, a born and raised Yemeni woman in her late twenties, is not new to the faith. Before a civil war broke out in her country in 2015, she had already accepted Christ.
A Christian woman she met at university was able to read the Bible and pray with Nadeen once a week. Attending classes gave her an excuse to leave home, but when Nadeen graduated, she no longer had an excuse. Nadeen found it harder to meet the woman to pray and read the Bible. Eventually, Nadeen’s disciple partner left the country—leaving Nadeen alone.
“After this woman had left my country, I didn’t have the opportunity to meet with other believers anymore,” Nadeen shares.
Her family was unaware of her faith, and as a single woman in a strict Muslim family, it was difficult for her to leave the house alone.
“They controlled everything I did,” Nadeen says. “But in my heart, I longed to participate in prayer meetings with other believers and learn more.”
Months went by, and Nadeen didn’t meet with any other believers in person. “I had a Facebook account, and that was where I met another believer who was participating in a Facebook group.”
Several believers from Nadeen’s area met online in this group to share their experiences and testimonies. “Online, we prayed together, and we asked the questions that we had about faith in Christ and God,” she says.
EAGER TO EXPERIENCE REAL COMMUNITY
Through this online fellowship, she even learned that there was a secret community of believers in her city. “I had always been eager to experience the real community of local believers and not just the virtual one that I knew online.”
When Nadeen got a job at a bank, it gave her the perfect excuse to leave the house and meet the secret believers from her Facebook group in person. Through this group, she met another believer from a Muslim background and soon they developed feelings for each other. After seeking the counsel of the elders in this local Christian gathering, they agreed to get married.
“God made a way for me to get married to this believer from the local faith community, and He introduced me to the actual church I had wanted to attend for so long! I consider my marriage to be an expression of the grace of God,” Nadeen shares.
After their wedding, Nadeen left her home—where there was no one else like her—to a real believing community. “Because of my marriage, I am now able to serve and share the gospel freely and to be discipled by my husband,” Nadeen says.
ISLAMIC MARRIAGE WITH A CHRISTIAN BLESSING
Nadeen looks back on the day of her wedding with gratitude since she was able to share this special day both with her natural family and her spiritual family.
However, in Yemen, only Islamic marriage rituals are allowed. “I had an Islamic wedding that was arranged by my family,” Nadeen shares. “But all those traditional celebrations were nothing compared to the half hour when we met with our Christian family, and the elders blessed our marriage in Christ. My husband and I felt the presence of God in a very strong way, and I was so happy to see other believers and their families there. The sight of the children and the sounds of the worship songs we sang and the celebration of communion on that day was more than I could have hoped for!”
By choosing to keep her faith in Christ from her family initially, Nadeen made it easier for her and her husband to stay in Yemen.
Some believers choose to expose their faith to their families soon after they came to faith—and are forced to flee the country. When they eventually get married abroad, they have already been cut off from their families.
By submitting to her family’s traditions upfront, Nadeen has been able to keep these relationships, and she and her husband are now able to share with them in God’s timing. After her wedding, in the early days of the civil war, Nadeen got baptized together with another new believer.
“It was a special day. My husband helped baptize me, and I was so happy. I really can’t describe what I felt when I heard the words, ‘I baptize you in the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.’”
One year ago, Nadeen and her husband found out that she was pregnant. Just a few months ago, they had their first child. The new family is determined to stay in Yemen and build on God’s Kingdom there.
Please pray for Nadeen and her family—along with all the other believers in Yemen today.
*Representative name and image used for security reasons.