A young couple who converted from Islam to Christianity have shared how their faith remains unshaken despite ongoing persecution.
During a recent trip to Lebanon, persecution watchdog Open Doors USA encountered a young woman, Karima, and her husband, Fadi. The two shared how they were forced to flee Aleppo, Syria due to the ongoing civil war.
Despite growing up in a devout Muslim home, Fadi said he embraced Christianity after reading the New Testament and witnessing the love of compassion of Christians in Lebanon.
"I read about the teachings of Jesus, the high values and virtues," he said. "The high standards Jesus teaches are the biggest evidence that these are teachings of God. What also attracted me is the loving environment of the church; that is something impossible to find outside. The man who discipled us considers us his family, he is ready to protect us."
However, converting to Christianity did not come without serious risks: Shortly after professing Christ, Fadi was attacked by two people. "They hit me, and one of my eyes was damaged as a result. My parents know that I am a Christian and because of that they rejected me."
In turn, Karima revealed she converted to Christianity after witnessing miracles in Lebanon. After the pastor of a church prayed for her, God provided a place for her family to live, a job, and healed her seriously ill son.
Like her husband, embracing Christianity meant losing her family: "Up until now, my parents didn't know about my conversion because they fled to another country," she said. "My family is very conservative; they are Shiites. If they heard about my conversion, they would kill me. We would lose our children."
Despite her uncertain future, Karima said her faith is stronger than ever, and today participates in discipleship groups: "The Bible teaches us that we as Christians will be persecuted," she said. "The biggest change in my life is that I know I have eternal life. My name is written in the book of life. God gave me peace in my life and He gave me joy. Life is beautiful, even in the midst of all the trouble."
The couple wants to move abroad with their two children, as they cannot return to Syria as believers from a Muslim background.
"A normal life for us as converts will be impossible; they could take away our children," Karima said.
According to UNHCR, Lebanon has the highest percentage of Syrian refugees relative to its estimated population of 5.8 million people - at least 25 percent, counting hundreds of thousands of unregistered Syrian refugees in addition to the 1.1 million registered ones.
As earlier reported, more and more refugees living in the country are embracing Christianity after witnessing the faith of local Christians. The pastor of a church in Lebanon told Open Doors that since the start of the refugee crisis two years ago, the church has grown "dramatically."
"We had one worship service on Sundays, now we have two. Both services are packed. We now have some 25 house churches," he said. "We have separated this work from our church building. People who give their lives to Jesus don't do so because they want a food package. They come to church because they feel comforted. I heard people testify: 'Thank God for the war in Syria; it brought us to Jesus.'"
"Churches have changed a lot because of the refugee crisis in Lebanon," he added. "God is at work in a special way. We see a lot of new faces being baptized. In the coming few years, we will be the minority, and believers from other backgrounds will be the majority."