As a girl growing up in a nominal Muslim family in Central Asia, Madina* never heard about Jesus. She wasn’t introduced to the good news of Christ until 1995, when her parents sent her to study at a college in the capital city.
But when a neighbour, a former Muslim, shared the gospel with her, Madina was enraged by the message she considered heresy. “This lead me to search Islam more so that I could prove that these people who ‘sold’ their religion were wrong,” she recalls.
Madina started practicing Islam more fervently, trying to pray five times a day, observing the prescribed times of fasting and keeping most of her body covered. But, her efforts didn’t bring her peace and she knew she couldn’t appease God. “After 2½ years of trying to live a righteous life, I realised how empty and sinful I still was; but now I was a hypocrite on top of it!” With dread she decided to cease practicing Islam. “This meant only one thing for me: Now I knew for sure that I was going to hell. And this led to depression and real fear of Allah and his judgment that I truly deserved.”
A couple years later, Madina began working at an English centre run by a small group of Americans and was struck by the joy continually displayed in her co-workers’ lives. “These people were happy and had light about them,” she shares. “At first it angered me because I didn’t believe genuine joy existed. But the longer I worked with them, the more I came to believe that they were people of true light, joy and peace.”
When Madina shared with a co-worker about her fears of dying and facing judgment, her co-worker immediately gave her a Bible. She started reading God’s Word and slowly her understanding of, and belief in the Book’s message began to grow. “After a year or so I could no longer call myself a Muslim, but a follower of Isa (Jesus).”
Madina’s salvation was the first chapter in a story of redemption in her family. “Jesus chose me, the first in my family,” Madina shares. She’s been blessed to see several of her nine siblings and her father come to Christ as she’s lived out her faith in a place where few know Him.
Madina is part of a story of God’s transforming grace not only in her family, but among many other least-reached people in Central Asia. Shortly after becoming a Christian, she met her husband, Dean, at the English centre, and the two of them now serve as Christar workers in a country that neighbours her homeland.
One day a decade or so after Madina trusted in Christ, Dean called to let her know that guests were joining them for dinner. As one of these guests, Elaine, chatted with Madina they discovered that she was the neighbour who had first introduced Madina to Jesus all those years ago!
God had graciously brought the two women back together, allowing Elaine to discover how He has used her boldness and enabling both to marvel at God’s providence.