Middle East Resources

Crossing Over from Darkness into Light

Sister Maryam’s Journey

By Bassam Michael Madany

14 September 2017

On one of Brother Rachid’s recent “Daring Question” programs, he interviewed a young Egyptian lady who has “crossed over” to the Christian faith, after going through some very difficult times. Her testimony is riveting as well as instructive. It reveals the various factors that go into the decision of a young Muslim, to leave an all-embracing religion that had controlled every aspect of her life.

Brother Rachid introduced her as follows: “She changed her name, and chose Maryam Saliba (Mary of the Cross). A few years before, she was a young Muslim lady; her life began to change as she began the quest to learn about Jesus, the Messiah. She will share with us her story. It isn’t hers only, but like several other Muslims who were looking for a true spiritual life that would give them inward peace. Perhaps, it will enable you to begin a quest that would enable you to exit from Islam’s prison”

In a day when various theories on missions to Muslims are being offered, it is good to “listen” to an account of a Muslim-born-Believer (MBB) about her Uboor (Crossing). We may be surprised by the convert’s maturity and faithfulness to her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

This is a translation of the story of Sister Maryam, in a dialogue format, telecast on          Al-Hayat” satellite station, on Thursday, the 17th of August 2017.

Brother Rachid addressing Sister Maryam:       

Welcome to “Daring Question!” Please introduce yourself to the audience.

Maryam: I was born and brought up in Alexandria, Egypt, in a moderate, average Muslim family. A serious problem existed in the family, as my father and mother were not enjoying good relations with each other. From my earliest days, I craved to see conditions improve between my parents; unfortunately, that did not happen.

BR

Was there anything in those days that attracted you to Christianity?

M

I received my education at a private school run by Catholic nuns. They planted in us a spirit of tolerance and love. However, they did not engage in any overt attempt to evangelize Muslim students; that wouldn’t have been allowed by the Government.  I noticed quite early that the school’s atmosphere was very different from the one that existed in the society at large.

BR

Then, how did you develop an attraction to the Christian faith?

M

A Christian student befriended me; I saw in her a better lifestyle that attracted me. At the time, I was fifteen. I had always been inquisitive, so I began to ask my Christian friend questions about her faith. Another factor was the existence in the hallways of the school, several pictorial representations of the lives of the saints, many of them had been martyred for their faith in the Messiah. My curiosity was heightened; who was Jesus, the Messiah? We Muslims believe in ‘Issa al-Massih, who was one of the Prophets. Our Qur’an tells has that he wasn’t crucified, Allah rescued him and took him to heaven. Our Prophet, Muhammad was the last of the Apostles of Allah.

Early on, my questions were sincere, as a young Muslim eager to learn about my friend’s beliefs. She was careful in not pushing her personal convictions on me; she knew that wouldn’t have been appropriate, or permitted. But when I kept on in my questions, she did respond. I didn’t understand the importance of the Cross for Christians; I kept on asking for its meaning.

One day, I asked: “How do you pray?”  She told me about the Lord’s Prayer. I was stunned by the opening words, “Our Father.” Spontaneously, I began to recite the prayer with her. “Do you call Allah, Abana, (Our Father?) I was eager to know more about the Christian’s view of God. I asked for a copy of the “Injeel,” (the Arabic term for Evangel, it refers also to the New Testament.) She hesitated, eventually she gave me a copy. I took it home, and began to read it in secret in the bathroom, during the night! I began with Matthew, and got to the “Sermon on the Mount.” I couldn’t believe what I was reading! “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”

Does God really do all that for believers? Is He that concerned with me? These truths are utterly different from Islam, where faith and sword, always go together.

Reading more, I got to the Passover, the Cross, and the Trinity. I became scared; still I would go back to my friend and ask more questions. After all, I was taught that the Bible had been corrupted, the Messiah wasn’t crucified, and showing interest in other religions was Kufr (Unbelief!) But I kept on with my questions.

BR

 So, what did you do?

M

Thanks to modern technology, I started visiting Christian websites, including Pope Shenodah’s site. (He is the Head of the Coptic Church in Egypt)

BR

Weren’t you afraid?

M                      

My mother warned about such activities; still I would go to some churches and borrow books, attended also worship services. This allowed me to develop different views of the Messiah, convinced that the Bible wasn’t altered.

I added a new dimension to my activities, by using Pal Talk. I listened to several discussions and lectures that added to my knowledge of the Christian faith. One day, I discovered “A Daring Question,” a Christian program hosted by Brother Rachid; a convert from a Moroccan Muslim background. There was a Muslim who had changed his religion; that must have been very hard, since Islam isn’t just a religious faith; it’s a complete way of life, it’s one’s culture and embraces all aspects of society. 

I discovered several people who had “crossed-over” from the darkness of Islam to the light of the Messiah. Programs of Brother Rachid showed me a side of Islam I hadn’t known previously.

BR

What happened next?

M

I underwent a total change of outlook. I began to do research about subjects that were mentioned in the weekly program. At first, I had difficulty to listen to someone who was causing me to doubt Islam, and the Prophet. How could he be right; my reaction to him became negative.

BR

And then?

M

Still, I kept on searching for the truth. I would go to a church oftener; that gave me an unusual sense of peace whose source I didn’t know. I kept borrowing books and hiding them under my bed.

My parents noticed a change in my life; they confiscated my cellular phone, and forbad me to leave home without permission. That lasted for a year and seven months. They decided to work on my return to Islam.  My sister was a very religious person, she performed all the five daily prayers. They asked me to join her and utter mine in a loud fashion, so they could hear them. When I failed to begin with the Shahadah, my father would beat me on my back with a leather belt. I would plead with God, “O Lord, thou dost see what’s happening to me; am I to go on performing these rituals while I don’t believe in them?!” (The Shahadah, is the Islamic confession of faith: a belief in Allah as the only God, and in Muhamad as His Messenger.)

I complied with acting as a believer, I did the prayers, read the Qur’an, and fasted during Ramadan. I was submitted to a strict regime of surveillance. But once, I managed to get out; I went to a church and asked to be baptized; they refused. They were scared to baptize a young Muslim girl.

I “met” a foreign clergyman on the Internet and explained my plight. He told me he would help, once he got to Egypt. We met at a church, and he baptized me, on the 4th of April 2015. However, the church’s priest refused to give me an official baptismal certificate. After my baptism, I felt a light burst within me, I had a new life; I owned a Bible, and before too long, I would wear a cross, as other Christian women do!

I managed to get a passport on 24 August 2015 and hid it outside my home. My first attempt to escape failed when my mother noticed me at the front door leaving with a suitcase. Right away, she and my father, whizzed me in a taxi to the “Investigative Branch” of the Police Department. En route, I uttered a silent prayer from Psalm 23, “I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me.” At the station, my father beat me in front of the police.

I was ushered into an interrogation room. The investigator, “Tell us who helped you change your religion? Tell us about the organization!”  He continued with a barrage of intimidating queries. “We know, you’ve already married a Christian; we know everything; don’t hide the truth.” The policemen kept beating me!

BR

As our time is limited, would you please tell us how you finally managed to leave Egypt?

M

Three months later, I managed to leave Egypt, and find refuge in another country.

BR

Do you have some words of advice and encouragement for people looking for truth and peace with God?

M

To all of you in search for the truth, don’t relent in your quest to arrive at objective Truth. Islam has failed me; its teachers and defenders didn’t satisfy me with their responses. But God is faithful; He will lead you into the Truth. He has a wonderful plan of salvation. Accept the plan and do what His Word tells you. Once you believe in the Messiah as your Lord and Savior, and reach a safe country, please don’t neglect your parents. Send them messages. Tell them you still love them, and would like them to enjoy forgiveness and assurance of eternal life by faith in the Messiah.

BR

Thank you, Maryam. I’m proud of you for sharing your difficult “Cross-over” experience. It will be of great help to several people who are crossing over to the light of the Messiah!

http://v1.brotherrachid.com/en-us/VideoPlayer/VideoId/280/501              

Even if the reader does not understand Arabic, it would be very helpful to watch some part of the Interview to see Brother Rachid and Maryam dialoguing!

Comments

The quest for truth is a common theme in the testimonies of Muslims who have “crossed-over” from Islam to Christianity. One of the names listed in the “Ninety-Nine Beautiful Names of Allah;” is “Al-Haq” “The Truth.” 

The following testimonies of a Moroccan, an Iraqi, and a Yemeni, point to the special role their quest for the truth played in each of their spiritual pilgrimages.       

“My quest for the truth intensified. I began to pray, ‘O God, please reveal thyself to me.’ I yearned to know the true God! One day, after making this petition, I became convinced that the Messiah was Himself the Truth. From then on, that conviction intensified. Yet, I did not make public my conversion to the Christian faith.” (Royal Moroccan Guard)

http://www.unashamedofthegospel.org/memberofroyalmoroccanguardsembraceschristianfaith.cfm

 “I’ve often cried out to Allah, ‘please help me find the Truth! When I would ask Christians about the subject, they referred to Jesus as ‘the Way, the Truth, and the Life.’ Another of his saying was, ‘You shall know the Truth, and the Truth will set you free.’     I was looking for the Truth, and I found it in Jesus, the Messiah. He is revealed in the Holy Bible; I put my trust in Him. He saved me, and has given me peace of mind, and assurance about my eternal life in Heaven. (Sister Naomi)

http://www.unashamedofthegospel.org/conversion-testimony-sister-naomi.cfm               

 “I left Islam and became an unbeliever. I thought all religions were the same. I had in my possession a copy of the Holy Bible that I had not read. One day, I decided to read it beginning with the Gospel of Matthew. I found these words of Jesus in His Sermon on the Mount. They showed me that I had been following the wrong path. I went on reading the Gospel and came across these words of Jesus Christ: ‘Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.  Ye shall know them by their fruits’ I had found the Truth in Christianity, and declared my conversion on Facebook.  (Brother Jibril)

http://www.unashamedofthegospel.org/brother-rachid-interviews-brother-jibril-saleh.cfm