Open Doors Blog

How a “Listening Ear” Equipped a Persecuted Christian

Posted on August 8, 2013 by in Countries, Stories


Have you ever been in the midst of a difficult situation, looking for a friend to let you “vent” and then were disappointed when they immediately gave unsolicited advice? At that moment, you were looking for a friend who would just listen, but your friend was looking to “fix” the situation, just like Job’s friends in the Bible.

It has been almost six months since Hellen lost her husband, leaving her to raise her three sons on her own. Hellen’s husband Abdi Welli was a passionate missionary to unreached people in Kenya. Adbi’s life came to an abrupt end when he was gunned down in broad daylight in Northeastern Kenya. His friend and pastor, Ibrahim Makunyi, was injured in the attack.

After a loss such as Hellen’s, there is never a simple answer to the question, ‘How are you?’ A truly interested friend needs to offer time to simply listen as she pours out her heart. Sometimes there are moments of profound faith. Often, there are moments of profound confusion.

Some of our field workers had the opportunity to sit with Hellen and listen to her.

She shared about her how she and her husband were initially ministering to unreached people groups in another African nation, but felt a calling to return to their native Kenya to share the gospel with the unreached people there.

“As soon as we arrived we started facing persecution,” she shared. “One time we had to sleep at the local police station when a mob threatened to burn the house we lived in. But with the boldness of God we resolved to stay. Abdi was not only a man with deep passion to reach his own people, he was also a courageous Christian who would boldly enter church on Sundays to worship even as locals gathered nearby to hurl stones at him and insult him. He would say that he is not ashamed to be associated with Jesus Christ or with his followers,” she said.

“I am comforted in knowing that Abdi had a very real encounter with Christ and that he vowed to never return to his former ways. I am also comforted in knowing that the Bible says in Mathew 22:22-32, ‘God is not the God of the dead but of the living’. Abdi is not dead, he is with Christ.”

Although she finds comfort and strength in Abdi’s example, Hellen also candidly told our field workers about her confusions. As she keeps going back and forth in her mind, trying to make sense out of the murder, the countless ‘whys’ persist.

“I did not expect that this was the way things would work out. Why did God allow them to shoot him?”

In addition to this, Hellen knows she needs a great deal of grace as she deals with Abdi’s extended family members (who are Muslim). In this culture, extended family structures are very important. When Abdi became a Christian, it complicated these relationships tremendously. She continues to be concerned over the safety of the children and family property. It is customary for Muslim family members to claim these upon the death of the husband.

In addition to our field workers ministering to Hellen, we are also asking Christians around the world to send Hellen letters of encouragement. This is a powerful way of letting Hellen know that her brothers and sisters around the world have listened to her story and are praying for her.

For more information on writing to Hellen, go to:


  • Verna Pheasant

    Thank you and God Bless

  • Wonderps139

    My condolences to Hellen and her children. Many things we cannot reason out or provide answers. What God allows to happen in our lives is for a purpose.

    “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to human; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.”
    1 Corinthians 10:13

    “We only have to trust God to lead us through what ever pit or valley we are in. He will be with us as he has promised.”

    Philippians 4:6-7
    Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and
    supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
    And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your
    hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

    Psalm 55:22
    Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.

    Romans 8:28
    And we know that for those who love God all things work together
    for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

  • Peggie

    Hellen may the Lord strengthen you now and through out your lifetime. May he sustain you and see that you and your sons have all that you need. God Bless Peggie

  • Julie Cuevas

    Hellen, may the Lord of mercy be with you and your son’s. Be strong in God’s word and ways. Our God is a God of love and He will not abandon you. I pray that you can feel His love and protection always. God bless you all!! Julie

  • Nina

    Dear Hellen, pls be courageous and trust in the Lord with all your heart even the flesh may fail you to fully believe in God now. I can share your confusion and yes, quite often we cannot understand why this and that God allows. But imagine if we are able to fully reasoning Him…well, in this case we’d have a problem because who’d dare to lean on something understandable, plain and simple. No, when we reach for a help and put our belief onto something, that smth should be more than ourselves and greater and more powerful (otherwise, why would we entrust ourselves into those hands?). So, it’s ok, it’s just ok that you and I don’t understand why that happened to a beautiful son of Jesus and God (your dear husband) because He does and he did have a plan and more importantly, He has a further plan for you and your kids. With all the power of your heart and faith and mind seek now Him and what He has prepared for you because He has a plan for you; u r not alone and u r not abandoned; nothing has changed in that matter because He never changes! No matter how dark can seem the moment, God ALWAYS and ALWAYS there and He ALWAYS gives the encouragement and love that you can feel. Seek for it and “you shall find!” Love, Nina

  • Thabisile Mkhwanazi

    Dear Helen.
    i am so touched by your loss and pray that God gives you strength to mount up on wings like an eagle, to run and not be weary ,to walk and not faint in Jesus name. May God provide for you and your children according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

  • Jeremy Baty

    Dear Helen,
    As a brother in Christ I am saddened to hear about the loss of your husband. It is hard to understand why a loving God would take away someone we care about, especially when He has asked us to pray for more workers to go out into the harvedt fields because “the harvest is great, but the workers are few.” All I can say is that when my father in law who was a wonderful servant of Christ died, the Lord led me to Isah 57:1-2 “The righteous perish and no one ponders it in his heart; devout men are taken away, and no one understands that the righteoe taken away to be spared from evil. Those who walk uprightly enter into peace; they find rest as they lie in death.” I have found great comfort in this. May it comfort you as well, and I will pray that the Lord will give you a real strong sense of His Love and Presence in your life.