Nadia* grew up in a Muslim family in the Palestinian Territories and always had a passion to draw closer to God. When her friend started living as a fundamentalist Muslim and followed the Quran exactly, Nadia followed along.
She immersed herself in the Quran, searching for Allah more and more. But she soon hit a stumbling block. “When I read a verse allowing [men] to beat their wives… I just couldn\'t accept that. It left me angry at Allah. I wanted so much more than what I read about him in the Quran,\"" Nadia said.
Image: A Mosque in Burqin, Palestinian Territories
Months later, Nadia overheard two Christian colleagues discussing the nature of God. One of them claimed that God was loving.
\""I laughed out loud when he said that,\"" Nadia remembers. \""I said,\'God can be many things, but certainly not loving. He is just crazy and awful.\'\""
Nadia\'s colleagues kept sharing God\'s love with her. She saw some sense in what they were saying but dismissed the idea that she would ever become a Christian.
\""I knew that in my family, changing religion wasn\'t an option. I was convinced they would kill me or hurt me if I became a Christian. That would be seen as bringing shame onto the whole family.\"" With that fear, Nadia closed her heart to God.
While swimming at the beach, Nadia got caught by a strong current that dragged her down below the surface.
\""I was starting to drown, and I realised: this is the end; my life is over now,\"" she said. \""I thought about my Christian colleague, the only person I knew who was sure that he was going to heaven. I also realised the place where I was going to, the place that I had chosen: hell.\""
As she sank, Nadia realised that she should have decided to follow Jesus a long time ago. Right at that moment, a hand lifted her up to the surface.
Stuck in bed for several days after that incident, Nadia knew she had been given a second chance at life. She called her Christian friend and asked him to bring her a Bible. Nadia read Matthew and finally met the loving God that her colleagues spoke about .
Image: An Israeli Bible
She said, “The words of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount touched me deeply. Compared to the teachings of Mohammed, Christ is so different, so full of love.”
While Nadia had finally glimpsed the closeness with God that she’d long-sought, she struggled, knowing that her family were Muslims. “I realized that I would lose everything: my family, my job, everything.” But Nadia knew that Jesus was what she’d been searching for. She remembered the moment that she first cried out to God.
“All I asked was, ‘God, save me.’ And then, out of nothing, I started to talk out loud. I kept repeating out loud, ‘Jesus is the way, the truth and the life.”
“I kept repeating that, for maybe 10 minutes, while a deep sense of peace and acceptance filled me. “Since then I have followed Jesus.”
Image: Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem
Nadia still kept her faith secret from her family, afraid of what might happen if they discovered it. Six years later, her father found out.
Nadia remembers, “He was so shocked he had a heart attack. He couldn’t stand the shame that it would bring upon him and his family. He forced me to leave the house, leave my community and build a new life elsewhere.”
Years on, Nadia’s relationship with her father is still strained. But her mother was so moved by the change in Nadia’s life that she has also become a Christian.
Many Muslim who come to faith in Christ must either hide their faith from their family or lose everything when their faith is discovered. Yet, Jesus is working powerfully in Muslim communities, bringing people to Himself, and into a new family – the global body of Christ.
*Name changed for security purposes.