Nashville, TN — It is a long way from a Sudanese prison to the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center in Nashville, TN, yet it is only a part of Mariam Ibraheem’s journey of faith.
Ibraheem, who spent six months in a prison in Sudan because she refused to renounce Christ, was at the National Religious Broadcasters’ 2015 International Christian Media Convention to be recognized for her stalwart faith.
NRB President & CEO Dr. Jerry A. Johnson recognized Ibraheem, reminding convention attendees how she had been “prosecuted by her government for crimes of so-called apostasy and adultery because she married an American Christian man.”
Sudan, which is governed by sharia law, holds that apostasy — in this case, the abandonment of the Islamic faith — is a crime punishable by death.
“Mariam underwent tremendous physical and emotional strain, including giving birth to her second child while in chains, being denied medical treatment, raising her first child in prison, and being sentenced to one hundred lashes immediately after giving birth,” Johnson continued.
Johnson said it was his privilege to present the 2015 NRB President’s Award to Ibraheem “for you being faithful, standing for Christ, in the midst of persecution.”
“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of Me,” Johnson said as he presented the award Wednesday, reading from Matthew 5:11, Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount.
“That is the promise of Jesus,” Johnson continued.
“When you see that promise, that verse,” he told Ibraheem. “Remember many Christians here tonight are praying for you.”
Through a translator, Ibraheem thanked “all the Christians around the world” who did not ignore her in her plight.
Ibraheem promised to pray for them “just like they prayed for her.”
On May 15, 2014, Sudan’s Islamic government sentenced Ibraheem to 100 lashes and death for the crimes of apostasy and adultery. While in chains she cared for her young son and gave birth to her second child.
Following an international outcry, the Sudanese government cleared Ibraheem of the charges and just over a month later released her from prison.
“I am just thankful and grateful that my voice was heard in the whole nation,” Ibraheem said. “And I want to give big thanks for those who supported me in my difficult time and prayed for me and who are still praying for me at this time,” she continued.
Ibraheem took the opportunity to thank her husband, noting he was always there for her. She married Daniel Wani, an American Christian citizen, which prompted the government’s charge of adultery. A relative notified authorities of the marriage.
“Glory be to God that He answered my prayers and gave me a wonderful husband to stand beside me,” Ibraheem said.
In an interview with Fox News anchor Megan Kelly last September, Ibraheem stressed it was her faith that allowed her to stay strong during the ordeal: “I had my trust in God. My faith was the only weapon that I had in these confrontations with Imams and Muslim scholars, because that’s what I believed.”
Dr. Johnson told the NRB audience, “This is a reminder tonight that there are thousands and thousands around the world just like Mariam who are being persecuted,” noting that Christians need to pray for them and speak out for their cause.
Statistics from Open Doors confirm Dr. Johnson’s report. The advocacy group indicates roughly 100 million Christians are being persecuted around the world, identifying North Korea, Saudi Arabia, and Afghanistan as the most severe offenders.
By Dwayne Hastings
Published: February 27, 2015