A miraculous story has emerged out of Algeria, where a man contemplating suicide experienced a dramatic change of heart thanks to the witness and encouragement of a Christian radio host.
According to a report from persecution watchdog Open Doors USA, Rafi, the father of a family in the predominantly Muslim Algerian region of Kabylie, became increasingly interested in Christianity and the person of Jesus Christ after watching Christian television programs. Before long, Rafi embraced Christianity - much to the anger of his wife and in-laws, who demanded he renounce his newfound religious beliefs.
When Rafi refused, his in-laws threatened to take his wife and family away from him. Distraught and hopeless, Rafi fled in the middle of the night, fearing there was nowhere for him to turn. While wandering around a neighborhood, he stumbled upon the deserted shed of a relative as he sought for a quiet place to end his life.
With a rope tied around his neck, prepared to take his life, Rafi remembered there was one person who had always listened to him: Labib, a helpline worker from the Christian TV station responsible for Rafi's conversion.
It was 2 am when Labib's phone rang. "I woke up with a start," Labib told Open Doors. "On the other end of the line was the voice of a man who sounded very tired and frightened. He said, 'I'm the most stressed man in the world. I can no longer deal with my situation. I am under terrible pressure from my wife and her family. I am going to hang myself because my situation is unbearable.'"
While silently praying for the man on the other end of the line, Labib listened to the caller.
"I told him to stop immediately," Labib recalled. "At the same time, I started to call on the Name of Jesus to bind the spirit that was pushing him to suicide. I kept praying for him, and thanks to God, he started to listen. I continued to talk of the hope the gospel brings and the greatness of God who can transform his situation.''
Keeping Rafi on the phone, Labib made his way to his pastor whom he asked for assistance, who in turn was able to convince Rafi to abandon his plans to take his own life.
The pastor invited Rafi to visit a church in his region the next Sunday and promised he and Labib would be there to greet him. At church that Sunday, the three met in person, and Rafi was deeply encouraged by his meeting with other brothers and sisters.
"Currently, he is doing well. Glory to God, he was saved at the last minute," Labib told Open Doors. "Although Rafi's in-laws and wife still do not accept his Christian beliefs, he is now able to maintain his faith. Through the prayers of brothers and sisters at his church, the immense pressure from his wife and her family which weighed him down are being eased."
Ranked by Open Doors' World Watch List as the #34 country where Christians face the most persecution, Algeria has a population of 40.6 million - and just 35,000 people out of that number are Christians.
Open Doors is urging Christians worldwide to pray for Christians in Algeria, who, like Rafi, face daily challenges to their faith.
"As Islam becomes more and more visible in Algeria's government, the freedom of Christians is becoming more and more restricted," reads the World Watch List report. "Increasing pressure from radical Islamic movements in government and on society, in combination with pressure from family members on Christian converts from a Muslim background, explain Algeria's ranking on the World Watch List."
It adds, "In the context of the growing role of radical Islam in the region, Algeria is increasingly the scene of more terror by radical Islamic movements. The law prohibits public assembly for purposes of practicing a faith other than Islam. Individual churches are often denied registration."