For those of you who don’t know me, I was raised in the Muslim faith. Growing up in a Muslim home wasn’t always easy, especially being the only one in your family serving Jesus. Here’s an idea of what life was like in our Muslim home.
The Muslims believe Allah is God. Women have no privileges. In a Muslim home, parents would arrange marriages for children as young as fifteen years of age. And yes, I was set up for an arranged marriage. I will explain later.
My parents divorced when I was young. My dad was always in and out my life, and when he did come around, he was drunk and starting trouble. Besides dealing with a broken home, I was sexually assaulted as a child, leaving a huge emptiness in my heart. Then one day, at the age of twelve, my sister and I got invited to a Pentecostal church.
Woohoo! We both got baptized, but there was a difference between the two of us. I had a desire to draw closer to God and learn more about Him. She wasn’t ready to change. Since day one, Hell attacked me like never before. My family was against me going to a Jesus’ name church, but I would go every time I had the chance. I had to be careful so my family wouldn’t find out.
But they soon found out, and I faced a fight as soon as I got home from church. My mom told me I was being a disgrace to my family, and my brothers slapped and hit me. But the bruises didn’t matter. I wanted to live for Jesus. My mom told me to me stop going to church. I didn’t want to displease my mom, but I was facing a unique dilemma—I wanted to please God, but that meant disappointing my mom. But I chose to please God, and God helped me keep the right attitude toward my family. I told her, “I’m not going to stop—I feel God at church, not at the Mosque.”
That only made my brothers hit me harder. They cussed at me and spit on me, but I know God’s grace covered me. Every day since then my mom would call me every name in the book, in Arabic, and in English. She would say “You’re not my child. You’re not part of this family.” It hurt, but I knew the devil was just trying to stop me.
My family thought they would stop me from going to church by sending me overseas to Jordan. Not once but twice. It was hard at first. I felt so alone, and I thought to myself “Why not just give up?” Just when I thought I was alone, I wasn’t. God was with me, and He was stirring me up. Something inside of me was burning. Every chance I would get to reach out to someone overseas, I did! I wasn’t afraid anymore. Nothing could stop me.
My cousin found out I was telling people about God, and he told me I had to choose between him or God, and if I choose God, he told me to stop talking to him. I said, “That’s fine. I choose God!” He sent me back to America. I thought the struggle was over since my family found out I was going to church. I was wrong; it was worse. Next, my sisters turned their backs on me. I got hit even more, spit on every day, and got mocked daily. They would say, “What is your God going to do to help you?” I prayed every day for God to help me, strengthen me, and help my family understand why I wanted to serve Him.
Then, on August 20, 2010, my brother was shot and killed. It hurt my family very much. It made my mom a very angry person. She blamed his whole death on me and would often ask “Why couldn’t God take you instead of him? He was my son. You are nothing to me.”
On the inside, I was hurting and angry, but I didn’t let it bother me. I kept fighting. I didn’t understand why I was getting blamed for my brother’s death. My mom was getting angrier daily. She would go days without talking to me until one day she came into my room, looked me in the eye, and said, “You know what? I pray that something bad happens to you every time you leave.” I wondered who would say that to their daughter? It was driving me crazy every day, and the pressure got to me.
I failed God. I was so angry with myself that I turned to the world for answers. Once my family saw that they all started talking to me and accepting me again. My mom asked me to get married for money because it would help her and my family. I was pleasing everyone else but God. I didn’t care how much my mom hurt me. I just wanted to feel loved and appreciated, so I got married.
It was a bad decision. I was miserable the whole time, but even when I did get married, nothing seemed to change with my mom or my sisters. I was still the odd one, and that’s when I knew I was never going to fit in with my family. I was different from them.
I’m a child of God who had to get back up and step it up because if I wasn’t praying for my family or the Middle East, who would? I got myself recommitted to God and was stronger in Him than ever before. I went to HYC one year, and that’s where I heard about AYC. It was about reaching people from different countries, and I felt God tugging on my heart.
I have a passion to reach people. That’s when I knew I wanted to be a missionary to the Middle East or wherever God wanted me to go preach this gospel. One day I was burdened for the Middle East and wanted to see if I was the only Arabic person in the church. I wanted someone who could relate to me. So I connected with the UPCI and every organization I knew of, and I asked around. As far as I knew, I was the only Arabic person in my district’s section. I prayed for God to open a door for me to be known in the missionary world. And He did!
The UPCI connected me with the director of the United Pentecostal Church over all the Middle East. He called me, and I told him my testimony. At the end of our conversation, he told me I wasn’t alone. He wanted me to encourage a seven-year-old Iranian girl who is facing the same situation I went through.
Although it has been a struggle, I thank God for all He has done. I have friends in my church, which is very important. I could not have made it without them. I am thankful for my pastor and his wife, with whom I have a very strong relationship. They prayed with me, counseled me, and loved me. I am grateful for my family with whom I live. They have been the best part of growing in God for me. I am now the bass player at my church, along with being a Sunday school teacher, and actively participating in the youth and pretty much everything else we have going on.
At the time I wrote this I was continually praying for my family. Even though I no longer live with them, I kept in contact with them through phone calls and visits. On April 5, 2015, I invited my mom and my sister to an Easter service. I didn’t know what the outcome would be. But during the service, God touched my mother’s heart, and she was baptized in Jesus’ name! She still needs the Holy Ghost, but I thank God for moving on my family.
So I write this and share this to tell you no matter what life throws at you; no matter how bad the situation is, keep on fighting. God has a purpose for each and every one of you.
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