Hidden Believers

In the collective imagination of the west, people from the  Middle East have dark complexions; their black hair, brown eyes, and sun-baked skin separating them from the predominantly fair-skinned west. The people, however, cover a large spectrum from red and blond haired to more swarthy, olive-skinned brunettes.

The lady sitting across from us has been blond her whole life, though as she approaches 60 her hair requires more artificial help than it did in the past. When we met her we knew she was a believer, but didn’t know how she got saved. Now our language skills had improved to the point that she could tell the story. We were sitting at her dining room table nibbling the remnants of her hospitality and sipping cay.

As she breaks into the story of her faith in Jesus, her voice drops a little and she leans in. “I was born into a modern Muslim family,” she says, emphasizing the word modern. She is proud of the fact she and her female relatives are not required to wear head coverings, and that although they prayed in the mosque and celebrated the holidays, they were against things that hyper-conservative Muslims did. With that introduction, she continues.

“I was a very normal girl. My father was a brilliant man who was very good to our family. I liked to go out and dance with my friends and loved theatre and broadcasting.

I knew nothing more of Jesus than that He was a very honoured prophet. One night when I was in my twenties, I had a dream where I saw Him face to face. He didn’t say anything to me, but we looked into each others’ eyes and I felt deep peace. It’s strange, but even though I was a Muslim and didn’t know anything about Him, when I woke up I just knew it was Him. Soon after I had a second dream just like the first one. It was then I told my mom what I saw. She told me I should pray because it was very special to have a visit like this from such a holy man, but also indicated I should keep it to myself.

At first, I wondered what to do. At the time I was working in a factory with a man who was a few years older than me. He was an Armenian and used to be a priest, so I knew he knew about Jesus. One day at work I told him about my dream. He said, “I was a priest and I study the Bible every day, but I have never seen Jesus. This is a very special thing. You should go to a church and pray.”

Soon after I talked to him I went to a large old church in the city that I had seen before. The door was only open a bit, and inside it was almost totally dark and no one was there. I didn’t know what to do; I had never been in a church. I looked around and saw candles I could light for a little money. I bought the biggest one and lit it – the small one just wouldn’t do! Then I walked over to a picture of Jesus on a cross and sat in front of it for a long time. I didn’t know how to pray, so I just sat. That was when the priest came in. He asked me how I was and if he could help me but because I was afraid to be alone with a strange man I thanked him and left right away.”

At this point, she quiets down and becomes almost apologetic before continuing.

“About 30 years passed. I got married, had a son, and continued my life. But I never forgot! How could you forget something like that? Then, when my son was almost grown up and I was about 50, we had to move. We had the choice of two apartments. One had a view of the sea with a beautiful fireplace and balcony. The other was the one we live in now. They were the same rent, and the other was clearly much better, but I begged my husband to come here. There was just something in my heart pulling me here.

One day, a knock came at the door. It was an American woman who lived across the hall. She only knew a few words of our language and I only knew a few words of English, but we started a friendship. Later, as she was learning the language, I found out she was a Christian. I hadn’t told anyone the dream for years, but I told her. She was also very excited about it and invited me to join a group of friends who read the New Testament together in her apartment. I went and began to read. It was so beautiful, and I loved the stories about Jesus.

For two years I went to that group week after week. One day after I had returned home I was standing in my living room and suddenly I knew: Jesus is Lord! He is God’s Son! I began praying to Him at that time and gave my life to Him. The next week I told my friends about my decision and we celebrated, prayed, and cried together. But I was afraid to tell my family. For a while, I told no one, but I knew I had to tell my husband.

One morning I cooked him a huge breakfast of all his favourite foods. After the meal he went into the living room and started watching a cowboy film. I was so scared but I went in and said, “Dear, I need to tell you something.” “Sure, what do you need to tell me?” he said, still watching his film. “Turn off the TV, it’s very important.” He did so, and looked me right in the face, curious as to what it could be. I told him I was a Christian now because I believe that Jesus is the Son of God and that He died for our sins. The room was very quiet; he just looked at me for a long time. Finally he only said, “Are you sure about this?” Yes. “Are you happy?” Yes, more than I can explain. “OK. But I have one request. You cannot say another word to any of our friends or family.

He is my husband, so I have respected his request.”

She goes on to explain that she’s been to church a few times, but for fellowship, she has continued with the ladies across the hall. My wife and I sit stunned through the whole story from the dream to the confession to her husband. She shares her story with some of the other Christians she meets, and she has shared her faith a few times with other people she’s met in cafes, but her other friends and family still don’t know to this day. Then it dawns on me. I ask, “what about your son?”

“He has never asked, but he has seen my New Testament many times. Pray for him to know Jesus,” she responds. She goes on to lament lost years; the decades that passed quickly with little substance; time that she lived a hollow life. She sheds a few tears and shows a little shame when she talks about the 78 million Muslims living in her nation. It took two dreams, decades of waiting, and two years of Bible teaching and pre-conversion discipleship to bring this woman to faith. Now we ask ourselves what it will take for the others in this country to come to the same place of trust in Jesus as Savior.

Please Note: For the sake of security the identity of the Global Worker(s) and exact geological locations have been omitted from the article.