Nurah* is an Open Doors worker in the Middle East, providing secret discipleship training for believers from Muslim backgrounds. “Gathering for Bible study is not allowed in our country,” Nurah explains. “We will even get in trouble if anyone finds out we have a Bible for ourselves.”
Despite the great risks she takes to carry out this work, she sees how valuable it is. “I see how lives are changed when people start living with God and that’s the most beautiful thing I could wish for.
“In Islam, where we all come from, we read the Quran and close it again. We’ve then read nice words, but no action is required. In the Bible it’s totally different”.
This is the story of how God called Nurah to serve the secret church.
“I don’t come from a strict Muslim family. My parents were both Muslims, but they were very open minded. However, I started to engage in our family religion more and more at the age of 13. I was influenced by the Islamic culture I was living in which told me I was born as a Muslim, so I’d better live like it. So I did everything Islam taught me to do. I prayed each day and didn’t miss any of the prayer times.
“I wasn’t a very pleasant person to be around. I always thought I knew better than others around me. I was always angry. I think for that reason I didn’t have any deep friendships. I continued to live like this until a difficult time in my life caused me to struggle a lot.
“My sister lived in Europe at the time and my parents and I decided that it might be good for me to spend some time with her abroad. Leaving my home country didn’t mean leaving my problems. I tried to find strength in my Islamic faith to solve it, but I didn’t find it. I found out I needed something more, something different.
“A friend there gave me a Bible in my language and I started reading it, hoping it would help me cope with my problems. I had been studying the Bible for a year when one night I felt so tired. Tired of my personal problems, but also tired of the misery in the world. That’s when my heart opened and I gave my life to Jesus.
“Some people change gradually, but when I came to faith I was changed in one minute. I changed 100%. It was like someone else came to live inside of me. All my anger, my arrogance was gone. All the years of praying and following Islam strictly didn’t bring anything to my personality. But Jesus changed me in one minute. For me that really showed the power of Christianity.
“After about a year in Europe, I returned to my home country. My parents were stunned by the way I changed. ‘You are not the same girl,’ they said. And that’s what everyone said that I talked to, my uncle, my grandmother, my friend…everyone noticed. Through this testimony both my sisters came to faith as well as my father.”
“I travelled to many places abroad to find a church. But in every church I heard the voice of the Lord saying ‘No, this is not your church.’ This continued until I found a group of believers in my country. Then the Lord said very clearly: ‘Yes, this is where you belong.’
“God’s calling to stay in my country eventually led me to serve my country’s secret church. Through the group of secret believers I had found, I started to participate in a discipleship training of Open Doors. After spending years of studying the Bible through this program, I became a teacher myself. It’s a joy for me to see new believers grow.”
*Name changed for security reasons. Image used is for illustrative purposes and doesn’t depict anyone mentioned in the story.
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