A mother in Central Asia who converted to Christianity from Islam has been forced by her husband to either deny Jesus Christ or risk losing her baby, a persecution watchdog group has revealed.
Open Doors USA shares the story of Sameda, a woman who converted from Islam to Christianity three years ago. Despite leaving Islam, she married a Muslim man due to societal pressures to get married.
"Initially, we were very happy until he became more interested in my faith. Certainly, I did not hide the fact that I am a Christian and told him that God touched my life one day. After these words, my husband seemed to change," the woman revealed.
Because he was not a devout Muslim, Sameda's husband Rashid was not opposed to her Christian faith - at first. However, after realizing she was serious about following Jesus, he began pressuring her to convert back to Islam. He beat her a number of times - even when she was five months pregnant - yet Sameda refused to renounce her faith.
"Of course, I told him I would remain faithful to Christ," the woman said. "I can't imagine my life without Jesus anymore."
But after Sameda gave birth to their daughter, the persecution worsened. Rashid threatened to leave her and take the baby if she refused to convert back to Islam. Eventually, he kicked her out of the house because of her faith, along with her daughter.
"It was so hugely stressful and such a tragedy for me," she said. "My beloved husband, who always seemed so kind and caring; he kicked me out of his house with a month-old baby without any means of subsistence!"
Today, Sameda and her baby now live with her mother in the capital city. However, she could still lose her child if a divorce is to be finalized, Open Doors notes, due to laws in that country that give fathers custody of children in such cases.
"I don't ask God to give me back my husband, to keep my family," the woman said. "Most of all, I need to be strong in my faith. I don't want to lose it, to lose the relationship with Christ, but sometimes it is too hard. I need to have contact with other believers."
Open Doors revealed that it has been assisting Sameda with basic needs and with care for the baby. The organization urges Christians around the world to pray for the safety of Sameda and her daughter and peace in the midst of these trials.
Earlier this year, the Christian organization released a list highlighting some of the greatest human rights offenders toward Christians. "Islamic oppression" was overwhelmingly identified as the top driver of Christian persecution in a number of countries.
"Islamic Oppression is one of the most widely recognized sources of persecution for Christians in the world today - and it continues to spread - aiming to bring many parts of the world under Sharia law," says Open Doors. "The movement, which often results in Islamic militancy and persecution of Christians, is expanding in Asia (Philippines, Bangladesh, Indonesia) and Africa (Egypt, Nigeria, Somalia)."
The organization said the list of Christian persecutors was not created to "stir up anger - although righteous anger is expected - but to move us all toward prayer and action."
"So as we pray against the evil mentioned in this article, we can also pray hopefully that God's kingdom would come, and His will would be done," says Open Doors. "Here on earth now, and then in completion for eternity."