Growing up as the son of a Fulani herdsman and a voodoo-practising herbalist, Hafiz’s future was planned. Although his father had four wives and 39 children, he was expected to take over the family business and practise herbalism. Hafiz and his family were very devout Muslims and involved in the persecution of Christians in their town of Jos in northern Nigeria.
Hafiz purchased a Bible so he would be able to understand it and use this knowledge to convert others to Islam. The expectation was that he would find a wife and raise a family in the Islamic faith. Then he became a Christian and everything changed.
One day, when reading the Bible, a verse jumped out at him: “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” John 14:6.
It sparked his interest and many questions.
“I thought to myself: who is this man, Jesus, who calls himself ‘the way’?” he recalls.
He continued to read the Bible and began asking his family questions. Nobody could give him answers, so he made the decision to see a pastor.
He spent hours with the pastor, asking questions about Jesus and baptism and what it means to be a Christian. After having all his questions answered, he couldn’t deny that Jesus was the way to heaven; he accepted Jesus Christ and declared he was a Christian.
He went home and told his family about the Gospel and that he was now a born-again believer. They were furious and couldn’t understand what had happened. His father drove him to the police station and because he had contacts within the police force, Hafiz was immediately locked in a cell. Friends and family would visit and tell him to convert back to Islam.
“They would tell me that if I deny that I am a Christian and come back to Islam I would be released, but I refused,” he says.
Hafiz had spent two years in prison with no idea if he would ever be released, when a new chief police officer arrived. When looking through the prison files he asked why Hafiz had been in prison for so long. When told it was because of his conversion to Christianity, the officer ordered his immediate release.
Hafiz had been rejected by his family and had nowhere to go. He returned to church and the pastor who converted him gave him a place to stay.
When the local Fulanis heard this, they bombed the church with the intent to kill him. He escaped but soon after, a friend of his father came to threaten him with a machete.
“They thought I was going to expose them all for what they were doing to Christians, as they had killed many.”
He needed to escape and when a friend told him about YWAM, he knew it was where he needed to go.
Now that he is at YWAM, he knows his calling is to go back to northern Nigeria to preach Jesus among the Fulani.
“Jesus saved me from darkness to light so I want to go back to save them. I know they are still in darkness and I want to bring them out of that through God.”