A Deadly Interrogation

A Deadly Interrogation

Dina had only five years with her husband, and their children will never know what a patient, forgiving and humble man he was. “I am thankful God gave me such a husband,” Dina said. “He was always faithful to God.” 

Ali was raised as a Christian in an Asian country that had only a few believers, while Dina, who grew up in a Muslim family, came to know Christ during college in the late 1990s. After she began attending a church where Ali was pastor, they fell in love and planned to marry. At that time, churches still met openly, as the country’s government had not yet clarified its position on Evangelical Christians. 

Dina and Ali_Asia
Ali and Dina were well acquainted with suffering for being Christ’s witnesses, but Dina was unprepared for her husband’s sudden death.

Then, one Sunday during service, Muslim extremists detonated two bombs in the church. Dina was in front with the choir when the first bomb exploded near the door. The second bomb, which was closer, ruptured her eardrum and permanently damaged her hearing. Ali happened to be gone the day of the bombing. 

After the explosions, Dina helped put people in ambulances and make sure they were OK. As she and others stood in shock, talking about cleaning up, the police arrived. “We thought they would help us,” she said. 

Instead of helping, police took the Christians to a police station for questioning. And rather than inquiring about the bombing, they asked Dina things like, “What do you do in church?” and “Why do you go to church?” 

Determined to remain faithful, she kept repeating that she believed in Christ Jesus. Then another policeman came in and began to sexually assault her. “We will see how your God will save you,” he said. 

Praying for God’s help, Dina suddenly shouted, “Jesus, Lord, He is strong!” At that, the policeman pushed her away, saying, “Take her out. She is mentally ill.” 

Dina was finally taken to a room where the other believers were being held. And as she listened to the screams of believers being beaten in nearby interrogation rooms, she started to cry. Then, one of the church leaders, whose skin was blackened with burns, said, “We were all praying for you. Let’s pray for the others who are still in there.” 

A Sudden Loss

As a new believer, Dina eagerly told her Muslim relatives about Christ, ultimately leading an aunt, uncle and grandmother to the Lord. “When my relatives saw that, they started blaming me,” she said. “In my second year of university, my mom kicked me out. My mom actually told me, ‘Get your clothes and go to God. Go to church and your God. You can’t stay with me anymore.’” 

After the church bombing, the university also asked her not to return, fearing the stigma of an openly Christian student. “I had nothing,” she recalled, “no money, just a bag of books. I started praying, and God gave me strength to persevere. I remembered a verse from the Bible: ‘Take your cross and follow me.’” 

After Dina and Ali were married, Ali continued serving the church tirelessly. He was imprisoned several times because of his work as a pastor, and police frequently came to their house to threaten him and urge him to leave the country. As front-line workers in a closed country, the couple received regular support from VOM. 

In 2011, Ali attended a conference in a neighboring country. On his way back, he was stopped at the border with his bag full of Bibles. “Nobody could cross the border with a Bible, a Christian book or anything related to Christianity,” a Christian leader from the country said. “Even one Bible for personal use was considered illegal. Materials were usually confiscated and people were interrogated.” 

When border guards told Ali he was going to prison, he pleaded with them, explaining that he needed to get home to his pregnant wife. After being held overnight for interrogation, he was released the following morning and arrived home late that evening. 

Ali and Dina stayed up talking until 2 a.m. “I was not afraid of being in jail,” Ali told his wife, “but I was afraid for you and the children. I prayed that if I have to die, I would die at home, not there.” 

Ali never woke up the next morning. He died of a heart attack, even though he was young, healthy and had received a heart exam a few months earlier. “People who experienced that border crossing immediately understood what could possibly have happened,” the Christian leader said. Administering drugs during interrogation was common. 

VOM workers pray with Dina

Walking in Faithfulness

Life has been hard for Dina and her three children since Ali’s death. “We don’t know the answers to our many questions,” she said. “We just have to understand that Ali had eternal life. I miss him.” 

Since women are considered property in Dina’s country, men from the church have to sign rental contracts for her and pay her bills. VOM has been providing rental support. She also has to move frequently, when neighbors find out she is a Christian. At one location, the neighbor kids beat up her children and called them kafirs, or infidels. 

Last year, Dina got a job teaching Russian at a university. But within six months, she was told to either give up her church membership or resign. Dina chose to leave the job. 

Because the children were very young when Ali died (Dina was pregnant with their youngest at the time), Dina is the only parent they have known. “I want to raise them well, just like their father,” she said. “I want them to be faithful to God and serve Him with their gifts.” 

For years, Dina’s relatives told her that her Christian faith was to blame for all of her difficulties. They told her she was cursed and deceived. But their opinion of her has softened as they have watched her over time. One uncle, a strict Muslim, admitted that he admired her perseverance. “You are some woman,” he said. “You are not broken in spite of this problem. You are pure and not spoiled. I can see that God is doing something in your heart.” 

Dina is still walking the long path of suffering toward her eternal hope. She has seen God’s faithfulness and power in the past, and she knows He will always be there for her, no matter what she encounters.