At 21, Mehfri [last name withheld for security reasons] enrolled in a Bible school in Indonesia with no intention of studying the Bible. Although he had grown up in a Christian family, he enrolled in the school only to hide from the police, who were after him for selling drugs.
“I was not in the Bible school to get born again,” Mehfri told Voice of the Martyrs. “When I was in the Bible school, I was thinking how I could sell drugs to the students to get money.”
According to Voice of the Martyrs Korea Representative Dr. Hyun Sook Foley, Mehfri’s efforts to avoid jail were unsuccessful, but they did ultimately lead Mehfri to Christ.
“After a few months at the school—and after three years of selling cocaine and Ecstasy—Mehfri was arrested and put in jail,” says Representative Foley. “Then, one day, a pastor who visited the jail every Friday gave Mehfri a Bible. As Mehfri began to read the Scriptures, he recalled the few lectures he had paid attention to during his time at the Bible school. The lessons on God’s love spoke to him in his time of need, and his heart was softened toward the Lord.”
“I read Romans 10, and at that time I confessed that Jesus is my Lord,” Mehfri told Voice of the Martyrs. According to Representative Foley, twenty days later, Mehfri’s father, who had always struggled to make ends meet, came up with the money to pay his bail. Following his release from jail, Mehfri decided to return to the Bible school — this time to study God’s Word.
“I wanted to become someone God sends to share the gospel,” Mehfri said. “When I became a student at the Bible school, my heart was not quiet because I wanted many people to know Jesus. There was a fire in my heart to share Jesus with other people.”
According to Representative Foley, after two years in school, Mehfri arranged to begin ministry work on an island in the Philippines, where he served with a house church for two years. “He then moved to Mindanao, a region in the southern Philippines known as a radical Muslim stronghold and a difficult place to share the gospel,” says Representative Foley. “The government has ceded control to Islamists in some parts of the region, and attacks on Christians are not uncommon.” “Not many people want to go there,” Mehfri told Voice of the Martyrs, “so this challenged me.”
Representative Foley says that Mehfri quickly joined a house church of three families who cared for and supported one another, working together to share the gospel with their neighbors. “These were not rich people,” Mehfri told Voice of the Martyrs. “They were farmers and fishermen. During the two years [I was there], God stayed with me and provided everything. I saw God with me completely.”
After two years with the families in Mindanao, he moved to the Indonesian island of Borneo to study at another Bible school. “He dug deeper into the Scriptures and focused more specifically on evangelism,” says Representative Foley. “He realized he had to know the Bible better in order to share the gospel in Islamic areas.”
On Fridays and Saturdays, students from the school shared the gospel with local Muslims. “I shared the gospel with many Muslim people and baptized them,” Mehfri told Voice of the Martyrs. Remembering how God had turned his criminal life into a witness for the kingdom, Mehfri said he often wept with gratitude when he baptized a new believer. “I was thinking about what had happened in my life,” he said. “Because how beautiful are the feet that bring these things?”
According to Representative Foley, Mehfri formed friendships with students at an Islamic school during his time in western Borneo, even starting an anti-drug group to help them avoid the destructive traps that had once ensnared him. “As he shared his anti-drug message with the students, he also gently shared the need for salvation through Christ,” says Representative Foley.
Later, Mehfri returned to Mindinao. “Mehfri said that when he was a student in Bible school, he had a ‘fire in his heart’ to share the gospel,” says Representative Foley. “He returned to Mindanao because he knew it was a difficult place to share the gospel and not many people wanted to go there.”
Representative Foley says that after a few months, a student asked Mehfri for help. “The student told Mehfri that he had a friend who wanted to learn more about ‘mercy’,” says Representative Foley. “Mehfri agreed to meet the friend, so he followed the young man to a cemetery where they were to meet the other friend. But when they arrived, three young men jumped out from nowhere and started punching Mehfri.” Mehfri told Voice of the Martyrs he considered fighting back but decided that it would only hurt his Christian witness, so instead he ran for his life.
Mehfri told Voice of the Martyrs that when he was a student in Bible school, he had a “fire in his heart” to share the gospel.
Bleeding from the mouth, Mehfri said he took shelter in a nearby church building, where some people helped him recover and escorted him back to the Bible school. He remained at the school as much as possible for the next six months, focusing on completing his studies.
“Soon after graduation, Mehfri got a job selling water filters and married a young woman he had met at the school,” says Representative Foley. “She gave birth to their first child in 2018, and the couple have been active sharing the gospel together in Muslim villages.” According to Representative Foley, Mehfri reaches out to between five and ten Muslims a day.
In 2016, Mehfri developed a friendship with a teacher at an elementary school for Muslim children. “After meeting with Mehfri two to three times a week for three months to discuss Jesus and the Quran, the man came to faith in Christ,” says Representative Foley. “He eagerly taught what he had learned to his school students, until his superiors ordered him to stop. He then focused on studying the Scriptures and leading his family members to Christ.”
Representative Foley says that the next time Mehfri visited the teacher’s home, he was confronted by the man’s son before he could even get off his motorbike. “The son asked him, ‘Are you the one who gave the Bible to my father?’, and when Mehfri acknowledged it was him, he was suddenly attacked from behind by three men with sticks.” His eye was injured, but he was able to flee the scene on his motorbike, speeding toward home.
According to Representative Foley, when Mehfri’s 2-year-old daughter saw her injured father arrive, she encouraged him to stay strong. “Mehfri’s daughter told him, ‘You must stay on fire, for me.’ It was a phrase she had learned from her dad,” says Representative Foley. “His wife was overwhelmed with fear and began to cry. But after Mehfri prayed with her, she then prayed for those who had attacked her husband.”
Mehfri told Voice of the Martyrs that as the threats against him increased, he moved his family to a new location in Indonesia. “Since arriving he has led 10 people to Christ and baptized six,” says Representative Foley.
Mehfri told Voice of the Martyrs that he has come to accept persecution as part of the Christian life. “Jesus is the example, the model,” he said. “So we must follow Jesus. We don’t know about the future, but we must face it. We are ready to face more persecution.”
“Mehfri has ‘stayed on fire’ for the Lord, just like his daughter requested,” says Representative Foley. “He knows that the Lord who rescued him from prison will continue to watch over him as he seeks to reach other young men like himself with the message of the gospel, no matter what the cost.”