Faith in the balance
Connected to prayer
This article was first featured alongside our Prayer Diary in August 2018. You can download the August 2018 prayer points here or sign-up to receive future editions by post or email.
Myriam* shares her story about discovering Christianity, and her search for the truth.
Susanna has been my best friend since we were children, and it’s through her that I can trace some of my Christian story. Susanna lived next door to a Christian missionary called Joanna. One Christmas, Joanna invited me and Susanna to a party. There was a local believer there who started reading the Bible out loud, telling stories about Jesus. I couldn’t take my eyes off her. All the words she spoke were just echoing in my heart. I wanted to dismiss it, but this woman, this believer, seemed so kind and gentle, a beautiful spirit. I just had to listen. The words seemed just for me.
Realising the Qur’an wasn’t the truth, and that I couldn’t follow Islam, was like having to take off my own skin.
Looking round, I could see another local family that I knew. Were these people Christians? Living here? I didn’t know that was possible. I’d never met a local Christian.
The lady reading the Bible came and spoke to me. Her name was Malika. We swapped phone numbers and kept in touch. Malika invited me to another party. She was talking about something called Easter, and I had no idea what she meant! This party was different. Lots of people from all over the country came together. I was amazed, so many people from my country believed in Jesus. I needed to talk to Malika more, how could they be locals and believers? We had a big conversation. After that, I began to wish I’d never asked a single question. I wished I hadn’t been given any answers.
I couldn’t put the Bible down. I started weighing the Bible against the Qur’an. What does it say here, what does it say there? The more that I studied the Qur’an, the more I read things that I didn’t like, things that just didn’t feel right. I didn’t want the Bible to be the truth, I so wanted Islam to have an answer for all of Malika’s claims. But the more I read the Qur’an, the more I found the Qur’an wanting, and the Bible giving me answers. I was so sad. Realising the Qur’an wasn’t the truth, and that I couldn’t follow Islam, was like having to take off my own skin. I had to change everything about myself.
During Ramadan now, I couldn’t be joyful. I had thought my life was beautiful. But when I started to understand the truth, I knew that the joy was false. I was so alone. Everyone else was so comfortable with the rituals, with the stories. The truth was hard but I couldn’t give it up. But I couldn’t give up my old life either. I spent two years choosing neither. I wasn’t a Muslim. I wasn’t a Christian.
A growing peace
Increasingly, when I read the Bible I began to know peace, and everything else in my life seemed less important than what I was reading.
I would go to a little church gathering. I would talk to Malika, and there I would respond to Jesus. I wanted a beautiful life like Malika’s. I wanted to live out the truth. But then I would go home and pretend. Malika and the other believers would text me, they wouldn’t let me give up on the truth, and they made sure I knew that if I chose Jesus, I wouldn’t be on my own. I got more involved in our little church. I realised that I had something to give, that Jesus had given me gifts too. Increasingly, when I read the Bible I began to know peace, and everything else in my life seemed less important than what I was reading. Finally, I was ready to let go of the ties that bound me to my family and my community, and to live for Jesus. I told my family my decision. I even took my mum to church with me! My parents and my siblings haven’t followed me into faith, but at least they understand what I believe. And they know that you can be in this country, and a Christian. My husband tolerates my beliefs, but he doesn’t want to know anything about them. I give thanks that I have one daughter who is following Jesus, my middle girl. My eldest daughter believed but has slipped away after marrying a Muslim, and my baby girl, she is not even interested. They need your prayers.
Our church is growing and growing. God is at work here. When I first went, there were about 10 people meeting together. Now we are about 20 people. This Easter almost 100 people came together to celebrate our risen Christ. God has put it on my heart to be a light in my community and to be able to give an answer for the hope that I have. The police know about us, and watch us, but we need to be brave so that more people can hear and respond to the truth.
*Name changed for security reasons