Skip to main content

Ex-Slave Was Captured as a Child and Forced to Embrace Islam and the Quran. Then, He Met Jesus

Share This article

A Christian nonprofit worker helping bring Sudanese slaves to freedom revealed a touching story that showcases the physical and spiritual importance of his organization’s work.

Listen to them on the latest episode of “Quick Start”

Joel Veldkamp, head of international communications at Christian Solidarity International (CSI), recently joined CBN News Christians to explain how Christians and indigenous religions in South Sudan have been the hardest hit over the past few decades by dangerous slave raids.

As previously reported, CSI helped free 1,500 Sudanese slaves last year, bringing the total liberated by the group over the past 30 years to over 100,000. Veldcamp shared the horrific ordeals these captives face.

From sexual violence to family separation and forced conversion to Islam, many have suffered. And yet many have held on to their faith.

“I’m thinking of one young man I met … who was just old enough when he was enslaved to know that he didn’t come from a Muslim background but not old enough to really know anything about Christianity at all,” Veldkamp said. “So, he grew up in slavery, and he grew up being forced to learn the Quran, and go to Islamic school at night, and work during the day, always being told he was a Muslim, always being forced to pray like a Muslim.”

Yet the man always resisted the identity that was imposed upon him. And when he finally became free, he explored the Christian faith heritage of which he had been deprived.

“When he came back to South Sudan, he had the chance for the first time to learn what it meant to be a Christian, and he learned the Jesus story,” Veldkamp said. “And he told me the Jesus story is way better — Jesus came and he gave himself for the world; he doesn’t force anyone to follow him. He doesn’t force anyone to worship him; he just loves us.”

Veldkamp said these comments stuck with him, as he reflected on his own experience growing up in a Christian household and sometimes taking the biblical story for granted, especially when he failed to take the time to meditate on it. Seeing the beauty of this man’s encounter with Christianity, though, showed Veldkamp the power of that story of redemption and love.

“For him, he was encountering it for the first time,” he said. “And just that experience of understanding that grace for the first time — I always carried that around with me. It was a real blessing.”

As previously reported, Veldkamp also discussed the history behind Sudanese slavery, breaking down the complexities that led tens of thousands into captivity.

“Today, we have two countries — Sudan and South Sudan,” Veldkamp said. “But in the 1980s and 1990s, it was all just one country called Sudan, and that country was split by a civil war between the north, which is mostly Muslim and dominated by Arabs, and the south, which is mostly Christian and black African.”

He said the Muslim government in the north started to use slavery as a “weapon of war” against the south, capturing people during the conflict, which ended in 2005.

Even nearly 20 years later, Veldkamp said many slaves are still “stuck” in detention, enduring painful and arduous lives. Watch him share how his organization is helping.

Share This article

About The Author

Billy Hallowell writes for CBN's He has been working in journalism and media for more than a decade. His writings have appeared in CBN News, Faithwire, Deseret News, TheBlaze, Human Events, Mediaite, PureFlix, and Fox News, among other outlets. He is the author of several books, including Playing with Fire: A Modern Investigation Into Demons, Exorcism, and Ghosts Hallowell has a B.A. in journalism and broadcasting from the College of Mount Saint Vincent in Riverdale, New York and an M.S. in social research from Hunter College in Manhattan, New York.