“Just before finding Jesus, it was the lowest moment of my life,” remembers Nadia (name changed). “I felt like there was no hope.”
Nadia had always been searching for God. She was brought up in a Muslim family, but she struggled to find truth and life following Islam. “I consider myself a seeker. Since I was very young, from the moment I conceptualised the idea of God, I’ve been seeking ever since. God, and the search for truth, were the main parts of my life.”
So, she began to search. But in the Arabian Peninsula, such a journey isn’t something that’s easy or safe. “There were actual, real repercussions when asking spiritual questions,” Nadia remembers.
“When I was seven years old, I was at school and there was an interesting subject regarding free will. I asked a very challenging question to the teacher and, instead of encouraging me, I got in trouble. My mother, to keep things peaceful and safe for me, told me, ‘Don’t ask questions, just do what you have to do, just finish school and that’s what you need to do.’”
Although Nadia had known about Jesus from childhood, she didn’t make the connection between Him and everything she was searching for. Her spiritual seeking led her instead to New Age practices.
There is a big cultural interest in mysticism and the New Age beliefs in the Arabian Peninsula, partly thanks to Islam itself: “That really sparked a curiosity,” says Nadia. “So, year after year, reading various books, watching different documentaries, talking to different people, traveling to different places, it brought me into this world of all sorts of strange things.”
And yet, as she continued exploring these practices, her personal life was falling apart. She’d become estranged from her family, and they emotionally abused her and cut her off. She went months without talking to either of her parents. “I felt like there was no hope, and it had already been about a year since I was very angry at God, very angry at Him. There was a lot of anger and I just stopped talking to Him.
There was a peace there, and I knew that I wasn’t alone…
“I’ve known who Jesus was since I was a child. I have a heritage that’s Western [and] I have family on one side of my parents who are believers, so it wasn’t really a foreign concept for me. I knew who Jesus was, but there were a lot of gaps in understanding various stories about the Bible, and I had no idea what the gospel was really.”
Jesus found her just after her father died. “That was really the first time that I felt there was a Father who had adopted me after my own father had passed,” she says. “There was a peace there, and I knew that I wasn’t alone… Jesus knows each and every one of us, and He knows what’s in our hearts, and He knows what each individual needs uniquely in their life or in that moment.”
Although Jesus had rescued her, following Him in the Arabian Peninsula – where Christianity is largely suppressed – brought new challenges. “The risks are very real,” Nadia says. “It’s very challenging to find a church and other believers. One of the main reasons is fear. You could be afraid that you’re talking to someone who’s not a believer, but they’re posing as one.
“The first time I met other believers, real born-again believers, it was a wonderful experience. I had prayed for that for a long time, to really be able to connect to people who understand what I feel and be able to talk to them and see that they have the same Spirit that I have and rejoice in that joy. It was one of the most wonderful experiences. It was very overwhelming. Since I came to Christ, I definitely learned what it means to be in the family of God and that I am not alone.”
Open Doors partners have worked with Nadia to disciple her and help her grow in faith – and to begin to share her depth of faith with others across the region.
The idea of so many people around the world praying for me and for the people in this area really gives hope as to how connected we are as the body of Christ.
Nadia knows that she can trust Jesus no matter what happens. “What does Jesus mean to me? He means everything. He changed my life in ways that I have never experienced. I will be eternally grateful.”
Thank you for praying with your persecuted church family on the Arabian Peninsula. Nadia has seen the power of your prayers at work: “The idea of so many people around the world praying for me and for the people in this area really gives hope as to how connected we are as the body of Christ. The more people in this area know this, the more encouraged they’ll feel that they’re not by themselves. Those prayers have affected me and other people living in this region who’ve found the truth and seen the light.”
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