Yemen: burned to death for faith

On the morning of June 9 in southern Yemen, Saeed woke to the sound of screaming. He shot out of bed, pushed panicked family members aside and saw his wife stumbling out of their kitchen, engulfed in flames. About two weeks later, Nazeera, 33, died as a result of her burns.

Saeed and Nazeera had become Christians and refused to return to Islam, and members of their families had caused the fire that burned her. After living in hiding in Yemen for several months, Saeed was able to flee to the relative safety of another country.

Saeed, 45, was born into a Muslim family in a small village in south Yemen. In 1997, he was reading an article about a member of the Yemeni Parliament doing something seen as a sin in Islam. Later he was struck by a columnist’s article about the incident urging forgiveness. “A local journalist wrote an article saying, ‘Why don’t you forgive him like Essa [Jesus] said. If you forgive other people, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive other people, your Father will not forgive you,’” Saeed said. “I heard this verse and was amazed that God talks about forgiveness, and I wanted to know more about Him. I heard one of my students talking about a Christian radio station that broadcasts for half an hour a day in the Yemeni dialect. That’s how I came to know about Jesus.”

“We ask people to pray for us, as we are all alone in this new place,” he said. “Pray for my children, as now I am their mother and father and only friend. We need prayers for God’s strength and to give us strong faith. I want people outside to know that even if we get cut into pieces, we won’t leave Jesus Christ.”


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