For a Muslim to convert to Christianity in Pakistan is dangerous. Ali Husnain was a Shia Muslim before he became a follower of Christ, and when he told a friend about his faith, he quickly found out that he might have to pay the ultimate price.
I had the privilege of sitting down with Ali at The Kilns in Oxford. There are still those who want to take his life, in Pakistan and England, which is why I won’t use his real name.
Watch as he tells his story of risking everything to follow Christ:
Today, Ali has religious asylum in the UK, but he still has to be careful. Many of us might be inspired by his story and praise God for other ex-Muslims like Ali who are finding Jesus in the Middle East. But there is another lesson in this story that I don’t want you to miss.
There is a “cost” for following Jesus.
In North America, many of us have become comfortable Christians. It’s difficult to put ourselves in Ali’s place. We don’t face the same kind of persecution. Our lives are not threatened just because of our faith in Christ.
In 1 Peter 4:12-16, we learn that following Jesus isn’t always supposed to be comfortable and that we should even rejoice in suffering:
Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.
Does this mean we seek to suffer like Christ suffered for us? No. Does it mean we must suffer if we are followers of Christ? No. This passage encourages its reader to understand that there is a cost for following Christ, and that when we do encounter suffering, we do not suffer alone.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who lost his life standing up for true Christianity in Nazi-controlled Germany, sums it up best when he describes the costly grace we receive from Christ:
Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock. Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son: ‘Ye were bought at a price’, and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us. Above all, it is grace because God did not reckon his Son too dear a price to pay for our life, but delivered him up for us. Costly grace is the Incarnation of God.
And this brings me back to Ali. He faced paying the ultimate price for his faith, a faith we too often take for granted.
The point: our faith in Christ is something worth risking our lives for—and it’s something worth sharing, as well.
Ali’s journey will not end with him finding comfort and safety from Muslims seeking to take his life. In fact, Ali wants to return to Pakistan and share Christ with the very people who wanted him dead.
It’s not a death wish. Ali is not a man seeking fame for doing great things. This is simply a man who has compassion for those desperately in need of the grace, faith, and salvation that he experienced in Jesus Crust.
So I want to encourage you to read his story in The Cost: My Life on a Terrorist Hit List. But more than anything, I want you experience a reinvigorated passion for the gospel. For this gospel that we believe in “is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.” (Romans 1:16b)
As the leader of the Haven Ministries, Charles Morris is always thinking of ways to lead Christians and non-Christians to Christ—hence the familiar slogan, “Telling the great story … it’s all about Jesus.” Charles is a former secular journalist, who has worked for United Press International, and as a press secretary for two former U.S. senators. He began working in the Christian world after seminary, becoming the fourth speaker of Haven in 2000. He and his wife, Janet, have written several books, including Missing Jesus.