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Christian Convert on the Run in Afghanistan

The New York Times profiled a 32-year-old man in Afghanistan named Josef. He briefly escaped civil war in his home country by fleeing to Germany, where many of his siblings live. At that point, he had already rejected the Muslim faith of his family. Out of curiosity, he got to know Protestant missionaries and attended church services held in Farsi, his native language. He told the reporter:

When I threw away my Islamic beliefs, I was living in a space of spiritual emptiness. During that time I was studying different religions—Buddhism, Hinduism, and Christianity. I was studying Islam as well … I think I was impressed by the personality of Jesus himself. The fact that he came here to take all of our sins, that moved me. I admired his character and personality long before I was baptized.

After being released from a refugee camp, he became a follower of Christ, and was soon deported. Today, back in Afghanistan, he's hiding from family members who have vowed to kill him for renouncing Islam. A brother-in-law named Ibrahim even offered the New York Times reporter $20,000 to tell him where Josef is hiding. "If I find him, once we are done with him, I will kill his [three-year-old] son as well, because his son is a bastard," Ibrahim said.

Josef's wife and child are also in hiding in Pakistan, but as for Josef, his faith remains unshaken. The article concludes:

For Josef, who has recently changed hiding places, the time passes slowly now, with little company other than his Bible. He can hear the muezzin calling Muslims to prayer, a reminder of danger's proximity and the paradox he lives now. "When I threw away my convictions … It was like an imaginary prison. [But] now it is the other way around. My body is in prison, but my soul is free."

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