“Who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials/temptations.” (1Pe.1:5,6)
Last month I asked if you had any stories to share about “preaching the gospel to the poor”. I’m still open to receiving them. Here is one that I just heard at our Missions Sunday from a missionary couple from our church that works with Arab World Media. This organization finds people in the Muslim world who are seeking to know about Jesus and then connect them with people on the ground who can help them. This is the story one woman from Northern Nigeria shared with them.
“I was raised in a strict Muslim home, and at an early age, I was known to my community as an excellent Islamic student. I memorized the entire Koran and I could recite it word for word. Because I was an exceptional student, I was chosen to pursue my studies in Saudi Arabia. While waiting for the paperwork to come through, I worked as a teacher of Islam. During this time, one of my students asked me a question that completely changed my life—she asked me about the prophet Isa (that’s what Muslims call Jesus). My student asked: Why does it say that Mohamed sinned but Jesus never sinned if Mohamed is the greatest of all prophets? I searched the holy books of Islam, but I couldn’t find an answer. So, I went to my imam. When I asked him the same question, he responded: “Never question the Koran! It is a sin to doubt.”
I couldn’t help but think there is something rotten, something wrong, at the core of Islam if I’m not supposed to doubt, to search for answers. In the end, my search led me to read the New Testament and I began to spend time with Christians. Through these relationships, hearing and seeing how Jesus transformed their lives, experiencing the love they have for one another and for me, Jesus met me where I was, and I submitted to him as my lord and savior. With this new song in my heart, I couldn’t help but share the miracle that Jesus did in my life. I told my family and friends what happened—how I was filled with joy, peace, and a sense of freedom… BUT—Everyone I told responded with extreme hostility. My family, they even threatened to kill me if they ever saw me again, so I fled to another part of the country and was adopted by a spiritual family. But, I stayed in touch with my sister, Fatima, and my mother by phone and I shared the gospel with them several times. Fatima was very open to the good news of Christ.
Only a few days later, my family discovered my sister’s interest in Jesus. She called me and told me: “They want to kill me too. I believe that Jesus is God, my king, and savior.” I responded, “Then you are saved, he is your savior.” That same day, my family alerted Boko Haram soldiers. The soldiers charged into the house, grabbed my dear sister by the hair, dragged her into the middle of the village, forced her on her knees and called for the whole village to come out. In sight of everyone, they gave my sister the choice: Deny Jesus or death… Fatima refused to reject Jesus. My dear sister (and sister in Christ) was beheaded—in front of everyone, and her life poured out on to the soil.
When I heard the news, I was utterly devastated and inconsolable—I was uncontrollably sobbing. Completely exhausted, I finally fell asleep, and had a dream. In it, I saw my sister who asked me: “Why are you crying? The place I am now is absolutely wonderful, I am with Jesus, and I will see you again.” This brought me tremendous comfort and hope. Now I am involved in a ministry sharing the gospel with the Muslims in the area. I keep sharing my testimony and I write songs of praise to Jesus.”
After Fatima’s death, Aisha was once confronted by Boko Haram. They pulled her into the center of a village, gathered a crowd, and gave her the same choice as her sister, deny Christ or die. Like Fatima, she chose Jesus. The soldier pointed a gun at her head, pulled the trigger, and nothing happened. He pointed his gun at the sky, pulled the trigger and a shot was fired. So he tried again, pointed it at Aisha, and it didn’t fire. When he pointed it at the sky a shot was fired. As this continued to happen, Aisha prayed to God that she would be invisible. On her knees she was able to crawl away from the Boko Haram soldiers and escape and no one even noticed her leave.