On the soil where American soldiers fought to secure freedom, Robert Hussein passes each day unprotected from tyranny.
Once a wealthy contractor, Hussein, 44, has been stripped by Kuwait's courts of his civil rights and his material wealth — assets totaling $4 million — and driven into hiding. Now his enemies would have his life as well.
His crime? Refusal to renounce his faith in Jesus Christ and embrace Mohammed, the founder of Islam. Claiming the Kuwait government is actually behind the attacks against him, Hussein has gone into exile. His wife and two children, ages 4 and 7, and his brothers and sisters risk death if they communicate with him.
Like many nations, Kuwait declares by its constitution it allows freedom of religion, while its Muslim-dominated court system contends the constitution gets its power only from Islamic law — which does not allow conversion from Islam. But Western nations consider Kuwait a free nation because of its constitution and its elected Parliament. "We are telling everyone in the West our freedom of the expression of religion is absolute," said Hussein, reached by cellular phone at an undisclosed location in Kuwait.
"Have I breached the Kuwaiti constitution?"
"My wife has been raped. My home has been abolished. But there has been no official statement from the Kuwait government saying this man is protected by Kuwaiti laws, and he has been harmed."
Until December, Muslim extremists who knew of Hussein's Christian faith harassed him – but police provided some protection, he said. But since December, when he publicly announced to the court he was a Christian, "the police started to put their hands away."
His home has been ransacked. What couldn't be stolen was destroyed. His wife and children have moved in with her family. Police and other government officials have done nothing, he said.
In June, Judge Jafar Al-Quzweeni ruled Islamic law calls for Muslim leaders to execute Hussein for apostasy. But there is no mention of apostasy in the nation's constitution.
Three Muslim lawyers originally brought their case to the family court in February, saying Hussein should be stripped of his civil rights as a Kuwaiti citizen.
Although Muslim lawyers said their case against Hussein stayed within legal limits of disinheritance and family matters under Muslim law, it nonetheless gave them the opportunity to inflame mass sentiment against him – and offered the judge a chance to invite execution.
In his ruling, the judge stated: "People like the defendant must be killed. In addition, his wife should be divorced from him and all his possessions should be distributed to his heirs." He quoted Muslim law: "The Imam should kill him without a chance to repent. … His blood should be shed by Muslims. … It is obligatory for Muslims to kill an apostate like the defendant."
Hussein first learned he was on trial through a newspaper article. At a hearing in December he asked the court to judge his case by article 35 of the constitution, which guarantees freedom of religion. The judge said, however, his was a case for Muslim law.
"I would say to you (in America): You paid your sons and daughters to free Kuwait. You have the right to ask your government: 'Are these people free or not?'
"This case is not about Robert Hussein. It is about the Christians here. Do they have a right to decide their own faith? Why, every time we pray, every time we have Bible study, do they penetrate our houses? Why are we distressed, beheaded?"
With the help of the U.S.-based Rutherford Institute, Hussein filed an appeal set to be heard Sept. 15. Except for a full reversal of the judge's first ruling, "the only alternative is the darkness of tyranny," said Pedro Moreno, international coordinator for the institute.
Hussein's case has drawn international attention. The Southern Baptist Foreign Mission Board, evangelical Christianity's largest missionary-sending agency worldwide, is one of a myriad of Christian and human rights groups that has publicly and privately appealed to Kuwait to defend its constitution and protect Hussein.
Kuwait's dilemma: whether or not to turn aside Muslim law in favor of its own constitution, which guarantees the personal freedom Western allies consider an inalienable, universal human right, and risk the wrath of Muslim extremists. Taking Hussein's side could pave the way for Kuwait and other Arab nations to allow Christians to worship freely and to offer protection from radical Muslims. But it could also set the trigger for extremist Muslim elements battling in Parliament for the adoption of pure Muslim law. Elections for Parliament are in October.
Hussein acknowledged he could be killed any time. "I am human, so I do have some fear," he said. "My life and everything I have, I have put in God's hand. But if anything does happen, I pinpoint directly the government of Kuwait. They are responsible for the safety of all of their citizens, and I am a part of that."
Christian Convert 'Counts It All Joy'
by Jon Walker
He remembers a sense of uneasiness as he approached the mosque. Although Timothy had known everyone there since his birth, he was not sure now who were still friends and who might be foes.
It had only been one week since he was baptized as a reflection of his new faith in Jesus Christ. In another country, there might have been applause as he rose from the water, but this was Egypt and Timothy's baptism was done in secret.
As Timothy walked toward the mosque, he knew his faith was no longer secret. He had not been able to contain the truth within him, and he had shared it with anyone who asked. That morning, when he reached for his prayer journal and found it missing, Timothy knew he was in for trouble.
"You can't imagine who betrayed me," Timothy said. "My childhood friends, all of them, were united against me. They were plotting against me because they had trained me to be a Muslim evangelist for years and, now, I was not only a Christian, but I was trying to convert other members of the Muslim Brotherhood to Christ."
When Timothy reached the mosque he was arrested. His mentor in Islamic activism was the first person to reach him. "He caught me by the arm and slapped me with all of his might," Timothy said. "He shouted, 'You Infidel,' and everyone came rushing out of the mosque to beat me. I was like a criminal caught in the act of doing something wrong."
"As they beat me, I remember thinking about Jesus when He was crucified," Timothy said. "He longed to see the Father. I remember Bible verses flashing through my mind reminding me I should 'Count it all joy.'"
Timothy said what hurt him the most was the rejection from his family. He said there was "a literal funeral" in his home that day. "My mother was wailing and crying," Timothy said. "She said, 'I disown him until the Day of Judgment. He is no longer my son.'"
Timothy reflected upon the moment and whispered, "I want you to know Jesus promised no less. He said a servant is no better than his master, and a student is no better than his teacher."
Timothy experienced these events within a few weeks of his conversion to Christ. For the next five years, much like the Apostle Paul, Timothy preached the faith he once tried to destroy. He worked with underground churches. Since he had a degree in English from the University of Cairo, Timothy began translating Christian books into Arabic.
He not only was constantly persecuted by the Muslim Brotherhood, he was also arrested several times by the police and "other supreme authorities." Even Timothy's family was subject to abuse because a Christian had come from their midst. "They tried to burn the house," Timothy said. "The police came at the last minute to stop them. My decision brought shame and humiliation on the entire family. Often I prayed, 'Lord, will it ever end?'"
During one of these times of persecution, Timothy's Bible was confiscated and burned. Since he read the Bible daily, he was grieved that he no longer had God's Word. He prayed a "simple prayer of faith" asking God to provide him with Christian literature.
The next day Timothy and his brother went to the market to buy falafel. When the brothers got home, they discovered the falafel was wrapped in a Christian newspaper. Amid the food stained articles was the answer to Timothy's prayer: Bible verses from the Lord.
"They said, 'Fear not, for I am with thee,' and 'I will not forsake thee nor abandon thee,'" said Timothy. "You may say it was a coincidence, but it wasn't. We bought falafel everyday in Egypt, and it never happened again. God is Jehovah-Jireh. He provided what I needed."
The last time Timothy was arrested, they threatened to put him to death if he continued to spread the gospel. It was then he wrote an eighteen-page letter to Anis Shorrosh, a Southern Baptist evangelist based in Alabama and author of Islam Revealed. Timothy had translated most of Shorrosh's book into Arabic.
Shorrosh arranged for Timothy to come to the United States to study at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He chose Southeastern because he knew the seminary's president, Paige Patterson, had a long-standing interest in Islam and the Arabic people. Patterson grew up with an Arabic brother, adopted by his parents.
Timothy's greatest surprise upon arriving in the United States was the "lethargic Christianity" he found. He was converted to Christianity through an American pen pal named John. After corresponding for several years, John came to visit Timothy in his village.
"I was very impressed with his life. He studied the Bible deeply and prayed continually," Timothy said. "So I tried to impress him by reading the Koran more and praying to Allah. I wanted to prove the Bible was wrong."
Timothy said he finally prayed, asking God to show him whether the truth was in Islam or Christianity.
"I never dreamed or imagined the truth could be Christianity, but God showed me," Timothy said. "I came to know the Bible is the inerrant, infallible Word of God. I came to know that Jesus is the eternal God. He is the very nature of God himself. I used to be able to lecture on Jesus and laugh about Jesus, but now I know Jesus. No matter what Muslims try to do, I know him in person."
Timothy's real name cannot be released for his protection and, most of all, the protection of his family. He is committed to letting Christians know about the suffering church in Egypt.