Loving, His life of suffering

Loving, His life of suffering

While Dilek has deep joy in his life with the Lord, he also endures profound grief over the loss of his relationship with his family.

With a population of more than 20 million people, the Cairo metropolitan area is a good place to hide. And Dilek, a Christian from Sudan, thought it might be his best hope of escaping hostile family members and relentless interrogations by Sudanese government officials.

As Dilek and his new bride approached the immigration counter at the airport in Sudan in 2015, he knew there was a good chance he could be arrested. He had recently been released from jail, where for three days he was interrogated about his involvement with Sudanese Christians.

“They asked for specific names of the leaders of the ministry, who is evangelizing and what were the names of the churches in the Nuba Mountains,” Dilek said. “I had to say the truth because they were beating me, slugging me on my head.”

Dilek was finally released after the interrogations, but the police kept a close watch on him. He was required to appear at the police station every three weeks, always on a Sunday morning to prevent him from attending church. So after months of living under police scrutiny, Dilek decided he needed to leave. “We decided maybe it was better to go to Egypt, because I could no longer stay in Sudan,” he said.

Although Dilek was detained for an hour at the airport, the immigration officials eventually let him go, satisfied that this Christian convert would no longer be their problem.

A costly Faith

Ever since Dilek came to know Christ as a young man, his faith has cost him dearly. He still has scars on his back and legs from the beatings he received from his father.

Dilek was raised as a devout Muslim in a turbulent region of Sudan. His father, following a not-uncommon practice among Sudanese Muslims, had three wives and 24 children. “We were very fanatical against Christianity,” he said. “We hated Christians.”

As a teenager, Dilek began studying the Bible in order to persuade a Christian classmate that Islam was the truth. But instead of confirming his misconceptions, studying the Bible convinced him that the Jesus who displayed such love was worth following.

Nothing remained secret for long in a family with 24 children. And when Dilek’s father discovered that his son was reading the Bible and attending church, he began to beat him. Dilek’s father forbade him from going to church and even asked one of Dilek’s uncles, a government official, to arrest him.

After Dilek was thrown in jail, his father, uncle and the jailers all pressured him to return to Islam. “I told them, ‘This is my choice; I cannot go back,’” Dilek recalled.

When he was released from jail a month later, Dilek decided to head for the Nuba Mountains in southern Sudan, where the majority of the country’s Christians live. He recalls his five years in the Nuba region as a sweet time of immersing himself in God’s Word. “Every time I heard about a theological college or teaching, I went,” Dilek said.

In 2010, feeling that enough time had passed to ensure his safety from angry relatives, Dilek moved to a large city, where he met and married his wife, Nafisah. His feeling of safety, however, was short-lived.

Dilek was soon noticed by government spies in the church, as his complexion differed from that of Christians from southern Sudan, and he was clearly not born into a Christian family. While Dilek says his home region in Sudan is changing, it remains predominantly Muslim.

Sudan Nu ba mt.
After Dilek’s conversion and persecution, he spent time among the Christian minority in Sudan’s Nuba Mountains studying the Bible

At the time of Dilek’s three-day detention and continual interrogations, Sudanese officials were concerned that Christians from the south were evangelizing Muslims in other parts of the country. They put pastors under surveillance, shut down churches and arrested known converts to Christianity like Dilek. During this same period, VOM worker Petr Jasek and a Sudanese convert to Christianity were arrested and imprisoned for 445 days.

Living under the constant watch of security forces convinced Dilek and his wife that they could never live comfortably in Sudan. That’s when they decided to seek anonymity and relative safety among Cairo’s massive population.

“Even if It Costs Me”

Moving to Cairo did not bring an end to the couple’s problems. First, one of their unborn twins died and the other was born with a complicated medical problem. Then, one day Dilek’s uncle found them and threatened violence.

VOM workers helped locate a new apartment for the couple as they and their 1-year-old son were on the run from Dilek’s uncle. But a short time later, they had to move again when their landlord learned they were Christians and evicted them. VOM not only helped with the second move but also connected them with a Christian surgeon who performed a successful surgery on their son.

Dilek's phone
Dilek crying
In Cairo, one of Dilek’s twins was stillborn and the other had severe medical issues. VOM workers helped him find proper medical care.

Last year during the pandemic, Dilek lost his job at a restaurant, but as a hidden blessing he then had more time for his role on the leadership team of a local Sudanese church. “Because I want to be serving the Lord,” he said, “I want to be part of the church even if it costs me.”

Still, Dilek said that none of his troubles have ever made him think that following Jesus is too hard. “This is where He is building your character and faith,” he said. “I love this suffering life for Him.”