The life of evangelical churches and their spiritual leaders has been portrayed in some recent films and series. Can they help us start conversations?
Numia meets weekly with other Christian women in a country where they must hide their faith. “My family sees in me something different, I am waiting for the right moment to share my faith with them”.
Among colored wool, scraps of fabrics, oils and watercolors, several Arab women talk and laugh as they let their creativity flow.
The “Women's house” is a refuge for them, a place where they feel free, valued, safe.
The foreigners who lead the art and crafts project are PMInternational workers who have learned the local language, respect the culture, transmit peace, and express love for each person.
The students see “something different” in them, but they do not dare to take the necessary step to discover what it is.
Numia does know what it is about. She identified that difference long ago, and that day she decided to speak.
THE VALUE OF WOMEN
The festive day that they celebrate each year in the “Women's house” was organized with care, in spite of the pressure of the authorities on the PMI team and other Christian workers.
“We are strengthened in the midst of pressure and our weakness. That day we were about thirty-five women. Our students waited anxiously for the moment of meeting and lauging. This annual festival is a special time that we dedicate to share and model the spiritual values of the Kingdom”, says Lucy, one of the members of the team.
That day they invited the wife of the pastor of the local congregation (an unofficial church that meets secretly) to share about the value of women and complementarity with men.
“God created woman not from the head of man to be on top of him. Not from the man's feet so that he is under him. He created it from his rib, so that it is next to him, as an equal value in the eyes of the Creator”, explained the guest at the beginning of the talk.
There was an open debate about the role of women in the Koran, in the Shariaa (Koranic law) and in Muslim society. Most of the women participated, standing up one by one in the middle of the room to express their ideas.
Numia was one of them. She spoke with much grace and gave a different point of view to the traditional Muslim perspective. They were all surprised.
SECRET WELL KEPT
At the end of the meeting, Numia approached one of the organizers and showed her her ring: A very original piece with a small cross, hidden on one side.
- I want to show you this, said Numia extending her hand towards Lucy.
- A cross! Do you know what that means?
- Yes, I know what it means. It is the cross that represents the sacrifice of Christ.
- And why do you carry it in your hand? Does it have any value for you?
- Yes! He died for me. I has been a Christian for a while. I do not go back, I need to meet with you to read the Bible and pray. I need a Bible in Arabic.
The presence of the Lord flooded Lucy. All the pressures she had been enduring were extinguished by the light of the Spirit of God in the life of Numia.
HISTORY OF A CONVERSION
Numia grew up in one of the most cosmopolitan cities of the country, at a time when there was greater religious tolerance than today. She had some relatives and also neighbors who behaved differently to the rest of the family (Muslim).
“I do not know if they were Jews or Christians, but there was something in them that attracted me. I was struck by the fact that they were treated with love and had a different spirituality”, she recalls.
Numia began to ask herself questions: Why do we have to pray five times a day? Why do we have to fast? Why do we have to go to Mecca? Why is it so heavy to please God?
“There were no answers, in Islam it is not allowed to ask this kind of questions. I had to keep them secret, because that was how it was written”, she points out.
Then Numia got married, had children and also a good job. Her life was apparently complete. But she felt a spiritual emptiness that led her again and again to seek God in the Quran.
“The more I read it, the farther away from the true God I felt. Something in my heart told me that God is love. I read the Koran and only felt burden, punishment, obligations, as if God were dedicated to making life heavier to the human being. Inside I knew that this could not be true”, she adds.
One day she began to watch some Christian programs on television. Thus she had a new perspective of God.
“I was able to meet a God of love, of forgiveness, who surrendered and sacrificed himself for me on the cross. A God who offered me everything for his grace, an undeserved love”.
In the midst of this spiritual awakening, one night she had a dream in which a very large snake was around her neck, and then she heard a voice saying: Do not be afraid, I'll take it away from you right now.
“The snake disappeared immediately, I felt flooded with a huge peace and I was certain that that voice belonged to Jesus. I could only say: I believe in you”, recalls Numia.
When she got up the next day, she looked at the sky and made the decision to follow Christ. She renounced Islam with the certainty that Jesus died on the cross and forgave her sins.
She found information about Christianity and people who spoke about Jesus in their own language through Internet.
For many years she lived like this, feeding her faith online, without talking about it with anyone, until God allowed her to find the “Women's house”.
Her first non-virtual meeting with Christian people took place there. “Although the teachers are foreigners I can communicate perfectly because they speak our language”.
“Through them I had a Bible in my own hands for the first time in my own language. Now I read it and I keep it as a great treasure. I have seen numerous miracles and proofs of the presence of God in my life. I think I would need thousands of pages to share them”, she adds.
Numia wants “to know Christ more and more. My family sees in me something different, they know that I do not believe in Islam. I am waiting for the right moment to be able to give reason of my faith to my family and that they also can find the Way, the Truth and the Life”.
The road is started. The Lord sought her, spoke to her, led her to a place where she would find those who are the fragrant scent of Christ in a country of Muslim majority.
Now Numia meets weekly with Lucy and other Christian women.