rebelling against low expectations

True Rebel: Eva Abdullah, Age 17


It’s awesome to clean our rooms without being asked. It’s awesome to apply ourselves in school. It’s awesome to tackle a new skill. It’s awesome to hand out tracts. It’s awesome to write books and do conferences. But it’s all pretty pathetic compared to the hard things our peers are doing in persecuted countries.

Lest we become content doing chores. Lest we become obsessed with chasing after headlines. Let’s remember that the hardest things members of our generation are doing aren’t getting them accolades — it’s getting them shot, killed, or thrown in prison. Eva Abdullah is just one example.

Disowned By Her Family, Imprisoned By Her Government

Eva Abdullah, 17, welcomed Christ into her life three years ago, though she grew up Muslim. This wasn’t one of those “raise-your-hand-silently-in-the-air-while-the-trendy-worship-leader-plays-welcoming-music-on-the-synthesizer” conversions. Eva’s father is a district Islamic leader. Her decision to follow Christ meant being disowned by her family — being thrown out on the street.

For three years she lived with a Christian pastor, while the radical Muslims in her hometown of Bagamoyo repeatedly tried to convince her to give up her new Christian faith. When she refused, they falsely accused her of urinating on a Quran, Islam’s holy book. Eva was arrested and put in prison. At her trial on July 23, the judge, who was allegedly bribed by the Islamic militants who accused her, sentenced Eva to two years imprisonment.

What Have We Done Recently That Really Matters?

Don’t get me wrong. God calls us to follow Him wherever He’s placed us. He calls us to be faithful with what He’s given us — whether that’s chores, homework, or our job at the local Piggly Wiggly. For me right now, that includes caring for my wife who is sick with Lyme Disease. For you it might be steady, faithful, one-foot-after-the-other-follow-through on schooling, on helping care for your aging grandparents, or on battling your own health limitations.

I’m not downplaying quiet faithfulness. These things really matter. In fact, they matter much more than blogging, speaking, running organizations, doing interviews, raising money, and being famous. But let’s keep it all in perspective. The hard things most of us face in the United States are kid stuff compared to choosing Christ over comfort, freedom, and your parents love.

What I’ve faced in the last 330 days hasn’t been nearly as hard as what Eva has faced. Graduating from college is hard. Moving across the country is hard. Taking care of a very sick wife is hard. Writing a book is hard. But none of those things are as hard as being imprisoned in Tanzania by radical muslims. There’s much more I can do — that God is calling me to do — in order to say, “I’ve arrived. I’ve done all the hard things. I am a true rebelutionary.” Compared to Eva, I’m a novice.

What’s The Application? Where Do We Go From Here?

Here’s where you can start: Take the time to write Eva a letter and petition a Tanzanian government official. Prisoner Alert, a ministry of Voice of the Martyrs, makes it easy. Eva’s doing the hard part — we can do this small part.

You’ll compose your letter on the Prisoner Alert website, print it out, and mail it to the address provided. It should cost $1.05 in postage to get it to Tanzania.

Next, raise your sights as a rebelutionary (i.e. as a young Christ-follower). The purpose of The Rebelution is not to work for The Rebelution — it’s to make Christ known! The purpose of The Rebelution is not to do BIG THINGS and get BIG APPLAUSE — it’s to follow Christ into prison, if necessary. The Rebelution is not about following Alex & Brett — it’s about following Christ, no matter what.

Jesus said, “I am sending your out like sheep among wolves… You will be hated by everyone because of me… Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me… Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it” (Matt. 10:16, 22, 37-39).

Since the age of 14, Eva has clearly been following this Jesus. She has given up family, friends, comfort, safety, and possibly even her life.

What Jesus Have You Been Following?

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

About the author

Brett Harris

is co-founder of and co-author of Do Hard Things, along with his twin brother, Alex. He is married to his best friend, Ana, who blogs at He is the founder of the Young Writers Workshop — an ongoing coaching program for serious writers.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  • It’s stories like these that make even the “role model” Christians look pathetic. Day-to-day we seem to think that just being “better” than others makes us great Christians. Eva hasn’t tried to be better than others. She hasn’t even worried about being “good enough” for God. She simply chose to follow Him faithfully, something most of us still fail to do. Sure, we can hand out tracks on the street, we can go door-to-door, we can resist drugs and alcohol, but that’s not what truly demonstrates our faith. We are blessed to live in a country that doesn’t (as a whole) persecute our faith. For those like Eva, however, just upholding our beliefs and standing up to the consequences can take more faith than anything else.

    I’ll be praying for Eva and those like her who are suffering dearly for what they believe, and I pray that God will give me strength to do the same.

  • Wow. That is very convicting. I can’t imagine the kind of faith it would take to endure her situation. I will be praying for Eva and will ask my parents for permission to write a letter. I’m sure they will be OK with that. She is a stunning example for all Christians. It’s stories like these that challenge the apathy of America’s teens.

    During the Early Church the Gospel message spread like wildfire because there was persecution. People ran for their lives and along the way the message of Christ was spread. That’s what we’re missing in America. No one is persecuted here so we’re okay with the title “Christian” if we can continue living comfortably.

    Bless Eva for refusing the easy path! I know she will find her reward in heaven.

  • Thank you for sharing this story about Eva! I so easily get comfortable with the life of ease in America that I forget the Christians who are being persecuted around the world. I even start complaining when there becomes a minor discomfort. So many Christians around the world live in horrible conditions, yet are always so thankful and joyful. Thank you for reminding me about those who are being persecuted for their faith. I will pray for this girl, Eva, and others like her.
    Also I will be praying for you and your wife, and that God would heal her of Lyme disease. I pray that God would give you both the strength and grace to walk through this for His glory and that you both would shine brighter for Christ through it.
    God bless!


  • Thank you for sharing this! It’s so easy to complain about the “difficulties” we face in life because of our faith, but really, what are these difficulties? Being made fun of? Losing a friend? Incredibly small things compared to what Eva is going and has gone through. My prayers are with her!

  • I would like to thank you so much for posting this inspirational story! I am praying for dear Eva… may the Lord give her strength and courage to keep pressing on toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus! (Phil 3:14)
    This story has truly inspired me… oh how easy it is to fall into the trap of being too comfortable in this world!
    I am praying for your dear wife… I know the awful effects of Lyme disease, having very close friends’ fathers becoming victims of this horrible ailment… I’m praying for you too. God’s grace is sufficient and He will prevail through all the hardships and heartache that comes with this suffering… God bless you richly.

    Your sister in Christ, our Precious Redeemer,
    Emily Grace Messner

  • These are the kind’s of things that are becoming the norm in our world. Christianity is becoming more and more persecuted all over the world, and we HAVE to pray for those faithful believers in Christ our Lord who endure things that we in the USA could never dream of.

  • The next time I talk to God, she’ll definitely be part of the discussion. It’s so affirming when someone is willing to give up absolutely everything for the sake of Christ. In a way, I envy them because they are so much braver and stronger Christians than I am.

  • Just this week I felt God calling telling me to write to another Christian in prison. A good friend (Joanna Suich from Bloom!) told me about VOM prisoner alert. I was reading through the stories of the prisoners when I saw Eva’s. I knew she was the one I wanted to write to first! One reason is that we are the same age. There is a letter addressed to her on my desk right now. I just have to put it in the mail. When I saw the name in the title of this article, I just thought, “Wow, God! You are so Awesome!” Thanks for posting this!!! You guys have been so encouraging to me! 🙂

    God Bless!

    In Him,

  • I will defiantly keep Eva in my prayers….
    And I can’t wait to write her!
    Thanks for posting this…

    🙂 In Christ,

  • Thank you for posting this.
    Although I live far away, it is encouraging that I can help her in some way.
    Truly this is a way to have a heart after God’s own heart!

  • It is amazing how we complain so much in America when we have to go through any slight discomfort. Stories like this inspire me to serve the Lord with my whole heart and to not complain. I wil be praying for Eva and I’ll send a letter to her. Thank you for posting this!

  • Thanks so much for sharing Eva’s story and how we can help. I always love writing to Brothers and Sisters in prison. It is so encouraging how our mighty God is working in her life and inspiring us through it. May we all seek Jesus just as hard!

  • So glad you posted this! things like this just remind me of how blessed I am to live in America. I think that if Eva gets thrown in jail for something that’s completely normal in America, then we should take advantage of the fact that we can do BIG and AMAZING things in God and NOT get thrown in jail. All that Eva can do right now is inspire people with her story (which, don’t get me wrong, is an AMAZING one). So we have to be the ones to go out and make a difference in our schools, families, communities, and in the world!

    I’ll be praying for Eva!

    PS: you guys should totally do something with the Kony 2012 people… just an idea!

  • That poor girl will be in prayers I been aware of perasuctions for a while now I ll wrie her a letter..
    This is my first time writing something on need to prey for this girl will be free from person and be safe in persion she is our sisiter in Christ

    I will prey that the muslims who arrested her will have their eyes and heart opened to the good news of God’s word.

  • This is an incredible story. I think this makes our ‘comfortable’ faith we have here in America look pathetic when compared to the amount of bravery this girl has, and how much passion it requires to endure all that she has gone through yet she still praises God. It is truly amazing! Very interesting story!

  • Eva will be in my prayers <3 I believe it would be encouraging if these beautifully written coments were sent to her. It seems as though she would appreciate the kind words and support in such a hard situation. God bless.

  • This story is so inspiring, the fact that Eva is imprisoned for her faith and is sticking to it. I pray also that muslims realize that Jesus was crucified and rose again. They know he existed, but don’t believe in him. Lets stick to our faith and not be afraid to go to work or school talking about God and Jesus.

  • Hey Brett, Thanks for the information. This article is so true. I am sorry to hear about your wife having Lyme disease. I was diagnosed with Lyme about seven years ago. I know you probably feel as if the doctor knows best and would only recommend what is best, but sometimes you have to do research yourself. I remember my doctor not prescribing some things because the drug was know to cause birth defects. (I’m not sure if these last two sentences came across as sensitive or not, but I tried). I will be praying for y’all.

  • Did you hear that Eva has been released? I just recently got an email from Voice of the Martyrs about her release.

  • That was really encouraging, and now that Eva has been released, she can encouragethose around her not to fear man more than God. When ever I get scared when go to pass out tracts or go on outreaches, I always say to myself, “the worst thing they can do to me is kill me. I’m in God’s arms.” and it really works. I want to encourage all those out there, not to fear men more than God.


    Always remember that you are never alone!

  • I wrote to her and mailed my letter earlier this January. I included er story (and of most of the people in Prisoner Alert on my first Praying and Fasting. I claimed it from God that those who are suffering for His glory will be in pain no more. And God has heard us! EVA ABDALLAH IS NOW FREED! :] I am so happy and grateful upon learning this news! ALL THE GLORY FOR GOD! Eva’s battle was God’s, not ours! (2 Chronicles 20:15) And we called into the right warrior to fight for Eva.

    A present day manifestation of God’s awesome power, just like what happened in Acts 16:25,26 ^____^

    25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and
    singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.
    26 Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations
    of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and
    everybody’s chains came loose.

  • Wow… I just found this. Makes me want to do more than I’ve been doing.
    Side note: How’s Ana doing, Brett?

By Brett Harris
rebelling against low expectations

The Rebelution is a teenage rebellion against low expectations—a worldwide campaign to reject apathy, embrace responsibility, and do hard things. Learn More →