Malaysia (MNN) — What would it be like to be considered a second-class citizen in your own homeland? For many Christians in Malaysia, that’s exactly what they’ve become, says Greg Musselman of Voice of the Martyrs, Canada.
“To the ethnic Malay people, they’re Muslim and they are not allowed to convert. So you know their churches and evangelism and things like that are very difficult,” he explains.
Although technically citizens have a right to religious freedom as protected by the Malay constitution, all too often Sharia law takes precedent over the government or court systems. For example, three Muslims recently decided they wanted to legally convert to Christianity.
“So when these three particular people decided they wanted to change their religion, it went through the court system, and the courts at the end of the day said, ‘Nope, you can’t do it, it’s illegal to do that,’” says Musselmen.
And some organizations take the issue of conversion very seriously.
“There are those groups that are going to try to set a precedent and cause fear to the society for anybody that would even consider leaving Islam. That’s kind of the way it works in any of these Islamic nations around the world,” says Musselmen.
“Overall Sharia law is implemented when it comes to dealing with matters of the family, with law, property, those kinds of things.”
Religion is considered a family issue, therefore letting Sharia law dictate the customs of the people. That means when someone does convert to Christianity, it’s up to the family to ‘fix the problem’.
“There’s also a ‘purification center’ they call it for people who have left Islam. So they take them there and get them to recite different Islamic creeds so they are again considered Muslim,” says Musselmen.
This purification center utilizes torture, beatings, and psychological attacks to terrify new believers into recanting their faith in Jesus Christ.
Yet, despite such rampant persecution, “As this is happening, the Gospel is moving at an unprecedented speed.
“As one brother said to me, I think he was from Lebanon… ‘This is the time for the Muslims, and we should not allow fear to grip our hearts with what’s going on,’” Musselmen says.
Want to know how you can help? You don’t have to travel overseas to make a difference.
“I’d encourage all of us to continue to be open to our Muslim friends, whether it’s in Canada or U.S. or somewhere else, to share the Gospel with them, because they make amazing Christians once they really grasp the understanding that Jesus loves them.”
We’ll connect you right here if you want to give or find out more about the persecuted Church around the world. In the meantime, Musselmen encourages believers to pray for the many converts struggling with their Muslim cultures.
“We pray that they would be able to feel the presence of the Lord, have the kind of teaching they need to so they can be strong in their faith, and that they would not let fear overwhelm them.”