I never ever thought that I would be following Jesus. If someone had told me that even three years ago, I would have laughed and thought they were crazy.
I grew up in a Muslim home, but throughout my life, I always felt like there was something missing. Even when I was at my most content, I sensed there was a hole.
My marriage broke down in 2017 and it was a very difficult time. It felt like my life was falling apart. When I had been through previous hard times, including being in an abusive relationship and losing my dad while I was in my 20s, I prayed to what I had known as Allah. That was the god that I knew. But there was no communication back and no comfort. Prayer just felt empty because god didn't seem to respond. I was the lowest and most depressed I’d ever been. I was starting to doubt whether God was even real.
One day I was mindlessly scrolling through social media and I came across a friend I hadn’t spoken to for 15 years. Back then, she was into New Age, yoga and tarot reading, but as I was scrolling, I saw her singing a worship song. I thought that was interesting as I didn’t know she had become a Christian. I also noticed she was a single parent, so I messaged her saying: “How do you manage day-to-day?” She replied: “Let’s FaceTime later.” I thought that was a bit forward, but I agreed.
When we spoke, and I asked her the question again, she said: “Oh, by the grace of God.” I thought that was a strange thing to say.
She had a peace about her that'd never seen before. She offered to pray for me and I accepted. When she prayed, I felt strangely calm. We kept in touch and she sent me sermons here and there to watch online. At the end of every sermon, there would be an invitation for people to accept Jesus and say a prayer of salvation. I enjoyed watching the sermons, but I always refused to say the salvation prayer because, having grown up as a Muslim, saying that Jesus is the Son of God was the ultimate blasphemy.
Dreaming of Jesus
As time went on, I would search for different preachers to find things that resonated with me. I wasn’t able to listen to sermons with a lot of scripture because it felt too daunting. I preferred to hear real-life stories because, in my mind, the Bible was just made up and full of myths. Gradually I began to delve a little bit deeper into listening to sermons that contained more from the Bible.
During this time, I began to have supernatural dreams. In one dream, a piece of scripture was following me around. Later, Jesus appeared to me twice. On one occasion he was wearing bright blue royal robes. His presence was overwhelming, but not in a negative way. I could never see his face, because it was so bright, but I knew it was Jesus. And I felt light, comforted and peaceful.
When I first encountered Jesus in a dream I was really freaked out and confused. I think God encounters people from the Arab world, and especially Muslims, in their dreams because I’m not sure that they would believe any other way. It’s quite a foolproof way to reach someone. Muslims are taught that Jesus is a prophet; they don’t believe in his deity. But if he’s coming to you in your dreams and telling you: “I am the Son of God” and “I am the way and the truth and the life” (John 14:6), it’s hard to deny that. God knows how to reach people and he encounters them exactly where they are in their brokenness.
After those encounters, I watched more and more sermons, then one day, when I was in my living room, I got down on my knees and I said: “All right, if you are really God, and I've been following the wrong god, then show me.” I was a bit apprehensive, but I did it. I said the salvation prayer.
Not long after I got saved, I started listening to Premier Christian Radio in the car. I’d be driving on long journeys and I’d hear Michael Youssef preaching. Where is this guy from? I used to think to myself, as his accent sounded familiar. As an Arab, I could tell he had an Arabic accent. He speaks so much truth, but not in a condemning way. The god I was taught about growing up was all about condemnation. When I listened to Youssef I would think: This guy is so passionate, what is it? Now I know – it’s because he has the Holy Spirit in him!
I’m not sure I have figured my faith out completely, but praise God I'm putting all my trust in him. Before lockdown happened, I’d signed up to do prison ministry. Lord willing, I'd still like to be able to do that. And potentially, in his timing in the future, maybe I’ll be involved in church planting. I think there’s an evangelist in me. That’s where my heart is – to reach the lost and the broken and the underdogs of society – the people who have been cast aside – because they need the love of Jesus.
Dee was speaking to Leading the Way’s Peter Wooding.