Jesus is so different!

dear brothers and sisters ~

peace and blessings from God our Father, through His Son, our Lord and Saviour Jesus. i would like to share my testimony here, how i came from Islam, to faith in Christ.

i was actually not born into a Muslim family, but a Christian family. so i am a convert to Islam, who has rediscovered Jesus, and returned to Him. as a child, i went with my family weekly to a Lutheran church, and enjoyed the songs very much. my father helped with the church services, and my mother would read from the Bible during the service, too. i went to church for years with my family, but didn't feel like the church had much to offer me- services felt kind of dry. though i was hearing about Jesus and about God for years, i wasn't really listening. my heart was not humble, nor open, though i was earnestly seeking. i discovered Islam in my early twenties, and converted. it seemed that Islam answered all of my questions unanswered by Christianity- questions about the trinity, the nature of God, and the true faith. i enjoyed reading the Quran, and i found a lot there that made sense to me, and that was beautifully written. i felt that Islam was a reasonable, understandable faith, that covered every part of life for a Muslim. i enjoyed the discipline of praying five times a day, and the idea that the Muslim ummah stretched all over the world. i was proud to be a Muslim, and i began wearing hijab, proud to be identified in that way as a Muslim woman.

in the time that i was discovering Islam, God lead me to a very kind, faithful Christian family from India. they were not thrilled about my faith, but they loved me very much and prayed for me, and welcomed me to eat with them and share their company. this family would be central in God's plan to show me to Christ. i regarded the deification of Jesus as a great shirk, and would become upset or impatient when my Christian friends would pray to Him, or pray in His name. i thought that having grown up with Christianity, that i had already known and understood Jesus and the religion named for Him, and that in Islam i was happily beyond that older revelation, and secure in the new revelation from Muhammed.

i argued, very frustrated, with the son of the Christian family that we worshiped the same God, but he would not buy it. he would not accept my Islamic faith as valid, though he was kind and patient with me as a person. and though i was "happy" or rather "confident" in Islam, i did notice something about his family's faith...

i was a confident Muslim, but i'm not sure i could say that my Islamic faith or practice ever made me feel joyful. i enjoyed salah, but the feeling would not last long after i rose from prayers. i liked the words of the Quran, and found many good ideas there and good arguments against Christian beliefs, but it did not feel especially personal. often beautiful, and mystifying, but not personal. i wanted very much to be close to God, and to know God, yet in Islam, though God most certainly existed and though His signs were all over the wonderful universe, clear for anyone to see, He seemed very far, a Being to be struggled towards, or praised from a distance. and it seemed the more i longed for God, the more difficult it was to reach Him, and the more upsetting it was when i couldn't seem to grasp Him.

my Christian friend and his family, on the other hand enjoyed a fruitful, personal prayer life. they prayed in their own words, with humility and also peace and joy, in Jesus' name. their praying in His name bugged me, but i had to admit that they knew how to pray, and when they spoke about God they did so with confidence (but not arrogance), trust, and gratitude. not "insha'allah everything will be ok" but rather "God will help us and give us strength, He loves us and will help us to do His will". it was as if they knew God and as if they walked with Him.

several things bothered me about Islam... before and after converting to Islam. the life of Muhammed was peppered with acts of violence that, coming from a Christian background, always bothered me. i found myself having to explain or defend or refute the very real accusations of violence within Islam. and though i became very good at arguing reasonably for Islam and presenting violent ayat in the Quran in their greater contexts, in my heart i was troubled. in Luke's Gospel, Jesus compassionately heals the ear of the young man who came to arrest Him before His death. one of His disciples had cut the young man's ear in anger, yet Jesus would not even allow this violence, and immediately healed the man who had come to arrest Him. and whereas the early Muslims did initially endure persecution, eventually Muhammed raised an army to fight in defense. Jesus never raised an army, and the early Christians fared much worse in persecution than the early Muslims had- yet they never raised an army, but died for their faith, often singing hymns. even if it was shirk, that kind of faith and patience was striking, and humbling.

so many people had been talking to me about Jesus since i'd become a Muslim, and i'd kind of angrily, civilly smile and nod at them, feeling they were insulting or trying to test my faith. i had been seeing all these things as tests of my Muslim faith, as challenges, not as signs that Christianity was calling to me to really listen to it. yet i had seen my Christian friends in prayer and worship, and their faith had a depth and intimacy that i couldn't find in my own faith, even if i didn't want to admit that. i began to desire the faith that they had, and to try to understand their faith rationally. but i couldn't, and according to my Christian family, i wouldn't be able to... after many months of struggling and haggling, one day i went on the internet and found a site, answering-islam.org. the website had many testimonies of Muslims who had been converted to Christianity, mainly through dreams or visions, great signs from God, or healings. the testimonies were really amazing, one after the other, and really made no sense except as miracles, and in light of grace and faith. so many of these Muslims sounded like me- proud of Islam, but spiritually hungry. that impressed me deeply, and i wondered if such a big sign was what it would take for me to understand what my Christian family was experiencing, living, and talking about. that night, still thinking about the testimonies, i prayed to God and spoke of Jesus as His Son, and asked to be shown the truth. that if God wanted me to be a Christian, could He please give me a sign.

and that night i had a dream. in my dream, i was driving down the highway, under a dark stormy sky. it was difficult to drive, and my headlights seemed very dim. i could see in my rear view mirror a car speeding up dangerously close behind me, as though it would crash into me without stopping. i prayed in the dream "Lord Jesus Christ, please save me!" and the car actually sped right through my vehicle, as though my own car was made of vapor. then i woke upů very thankful and amazed, clear that a true sign had been shown to me from God.

so right away i began to ask God to help me know and follow His Son, Jesus Christ, Isa ibn Maryam as He is known to Muslims. and right away i felt my prayers flowing from my heart more trustingly and fluidly than they ever had before. i began to really thrive on prayer, spontaneous prayer, and i just asked to be able to come to Jesus and to understand, have faith, and follow Him.

i encourage Muslims to read the New Testament, which talks about Jesus' life and ministry. "but it's corrupted!" that was my argument for quite a long time, and i wouldn't even open the NT. yet when i finally did start to read the NT, i found Jesus to be a wonderful man in so many ways, so much more than a messenger.

i would like to tell my Muslim brother and sisters that in spite of what the Quran says, that Jesus was indeed crucified, and died, and was buried in a tomb. three days later, God raised Him from the dead, a beautiful and a glorious sign of God's triumphant love and forgiveness. the glorious good news of Christianity is that Jesus is alive! that is the true joy of the Gospel- that the merciful, forgiving, poor, humble and prayerful Saviour is alive and that we live in Him through faith. *this* is why Christians have so much emotional, joyful love for their faith, and such good news to share with the world.

a Muslim apologetics speaker or dawah speaker will speak rationally, logically, and smoothly, this is true. he will make sense, and many will be won over by him because he explains everything well. yet what he will not have when he speaks of Islam is emotive, trusting joy in his faith, the kind of joy that comes not from logic but from wonderful, miraculous good news. what is the good news for a Christian? not that the Quran is scientific, or that Islam is the fastest growing world religion. no, for a Christian the good news is Jesus Himself. His wonderful, inimitable life, mission, compassion for the suffering, His resurrection, and grace. the good news is that mankind need not seek God through their works, rites, or struggling, but through knowing of Jesus, the merciful Lord, and turning away from the world and from evil to walk with Him as a disciple, and a redeemed child of God. in other words, we are saved by faith and God's grace, not by what we do or fail to do. Jesus says to us "Daughter, your faith has made you well. go in peace, and be free from your suffering". in Christianity, we are God's children, not His slaves. and in Jesus, we are set free from suffering and death.

Jesus calls those who hear of Him to turn away from sin, to follow His example of prayerful poverty, humility, and mercy, to trust in Him and trust in God, Who has sent Him as a light and mercy to all people. truly such a man as Jesus deserves the name "Son of God"!

i would like to sing this song: it is inspired by the teaching songs used by Pakistani Christians to tell their neighbors about Christ, and the joy they have in Him. in Pakistan and India, Jesus is called Yesu.

we are thankful Lord Yesu that we have known of You,
we are thankful Lord Yesu that we have heard and believed,
and we shall follow You, Lord, in faith and grace
we shall leave our possessions at the gate of the world
and walk in the ways of the Son of God

may God the Father bless you, and keep you in His mercy. i pray that this testimony may be used for the glory of God, who is truly gracious and merciful, to show souls the clear way to Him through His Son. may He guide every soul to Him, and open their hearts to the good news of Jesus Christ.

grace and peace to you, in Jesus' name ~ sister grace


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