After listening to his co-worker sing Christian worship songs for several days as they painted a house in Cairo, Egypt, Walid had finally had enough. His ultraconservative Muslim father had taught him early in life that he should hate all Christians. That deep-seated hatred had already led him to beat Haytham with a wooden stick for singing along with the Christian songs playing in his earphones. And since that hadn’t stopped the singing, Walid decided to silence him permanently.
One night after work, Walid grabbed a knife, followed Haytham and attacked him from behind, stabbing him in the side. Haytham turned to look at his attacker as he fell to the ground, and Walid made eye contact with him before fleeing the scene.
Expecting a visit from the police, Walid hid anxiously at his aunt’s house. He learned from some friends that Haytham survived, but they had to remove one of his kidneys. Walid was surprised to hear that Haytham hadn’t filed a police report against him. Yet he knew Haytham had seen his face.
A Determined Grace
Weeks later a taxi struck Walid, crushing one leg and one arm. Walid spent the next 15 days in the hospital. As he lay in his hospital bed one morning, he was startled to see Haytham and a few of his Christian friends walk in carrying fruit and drinks. Walid screamed, thinking they had come to kill him.
“Why are you screaming?” Haytham asked. “I am just coming to say that I am sorry for what happened to you.”
Haytham could sense Walid’s fear as they began to talk. “Don’t worry,” he assured him. “I will never do something bad to you. You are really dear to my heart. I love you.”
“How come?” Walid asked nervously. “I attacked you. You still love me?”
“My God told me to love you, no matter what you do to me,” Haytham replied. “No, you don’t love me!” Walid yelled. “You are going to do something! You hate me!” Realising that he had upset Walid, Haytham placed the fruit and drinks on the table and left with his friends.
After Walid was released from the hospital, a friend from the painting crew checked in on him regularly to see how he was doing. He also gave Walid money during the several months that he couldn’t work. At first Walid simply thanked him for his generosity, but as the money kept coming he grew suspicious.His friend finally admitted that it was Haytham who had been providing the money.
The Quran had taught Walid to never let a non-Muslim have authority over him, so he returned the money to Haytham. Instead of taking the money back, Haytham gave it to a nearby beggar.
The hatred Walid felt for Haytham suddenly turned to admiration as he realised he had never seen anyone like him before. Overwhelmed by guilt, Walid recalled all the times he had hurt Haytham only to receive love in return. It made no sense to continue hating him. From then on, Walid considered Haytham his friend … as long as he didn’t talk about Christianity.
A Disturbing Dream
After working until 1:30am one morning to finish an urgent job, Walid realised he had missed the last train home and would have to spend the rest of the night at a cafe. Exhausted, he accepted Haytham’s offer to stay at his house. At the house, he walked into the bedroom and found himself standing before a wall-size mural of Jesus.
He wondered how Christians knew that Jesus was the Son of God. Walid’s heart began to fill with hatred. The feelings of awe vanished, and he spat on the mural of Jesus. As he slept that night, Walid dreamed of two angels that showed him a bloody, slain lamb. Suddenly, the blood of the lamb covered his eyes. As he wiped the blood away, he could see that the lamb was now fully healed and alive. “I felt the lamb was calling me and asking me to follow him,” he recalled. “When I woke up, all I wanted to do was go away from the house.”
He continued to do his best to be a good Muslim, but he still feared a return of the dream each night. When he visited a mullah to discuss the nagging dream, the Islamic leader only yelled at him. As he endured the mullah’s abuse, Walid thought he heard another voice telling him the mullah was only after his money. When he asked the mullah if he’d heard the voice, he was accused of having an evil spirit.
“Don’t worry, just give me some money and I will give it to the other Muslim leaders,” the mullah said. His suspicions confirmed, Walid left the mosque. He immediately decided to leave Islam, but he still felt something was missing.
Drawn to Jesus
A few days later at work, one of the Christian painters noticed that Walid seemed distant. He asked him how he was doing, and Walid told him about his dream and the strange experience with the mullah. The Christian then gave him his pastor’s phone number and suggested Walid discuss everything with him.
Walid called the pastor, who listened patiently as he wrestled with questions about God. “Just call out to God and He will reveal himself to you,” the pastor urged. Walid hung up the phone and ran to the roof of the building he had been painting. Struggling to understand his thoughts and feelings, he yelled his questions at God: “Did you create me just to suffer? Are you real?”
He then saw a vision of Jesus, full of light. When the vision ended, he felt joy and comfort for the first time. “I felt like I was a changed person,” he said. Walid gave his life to Christ on the spot and prayed for the first time as a Christian. He started looking for a church to attend just days later, and during the first service he attended, the pastor gave him a Bible and told him he was welcome to worship there.
Walid kept his faith a secret from his family for as long as possible. After a year, however, his family learned the truth and then they started beating him and mistreating him. “During this time I was alone, but Jesus’ voice was with me and was comforting me, encouraging me,” he said. “God helped me survive.”
Today, Walid lives with his church’s choir director in Cairo. He still hides from his family, believing they want to kill him, as he searches for work. Converts from Islam to Christianity face many difficulties, including expulsion from families, divorce by Muslim spouses, loss of children and loss of jobs. Walid is grateful, however, that he has many Christians in his life who care for him, including a man he once tried to kill.
Source: Voice of the Martyrs