I was born in a family filled with problems. After my parents divorced, I was sent to live with different relatives for four years. During that time, while I was still a child, I was raped by different members of my extended family. I didn’t tell anyone. I didn’t know if my parents, who were both drug addicts, would support me if I did. Finally, I was completely disowned by my extended family. I don’t know where they are today, and I haven’t even seen my grandmother for 15 years. Because of this pain, I ran from God. I hated my life and hated that I was even born.
When I got older, I began to wonder about our national religion. If Islam is “the most complete religion,” I wondered why our family was in this situation, why so many people in our country—including me— were depressed, and why other countries that our leaders say are “idol worshipers” were doing so much better than ours. So, I started to research Islam.
I discovered so many holes and problems in the religion that I became an atheist. I also became seriously depressed and sought to ease the pain of my life through drinking. But one day, when I was going to buy alcohol, I met a man named Ali. He called to me and said, “I know who you are. I hear you write beautiful poems.” Then he invited me to a poetry night at a local coffee shop. Although I accepted the invitation, I was too depressed to go. This happened two more times! I would see Ali on the street, he would invite me to the poetry night, I would accept, then I wouldn’t go.
The third time, he drove to my house and refused to leave unless I accompanied him to the poetry night. I wondered, “Why does this guy want me to go with him to this coffee shop meeting so much?” Because of Ali’s persistence, we became friends, and I finally went with him to the night of poetry. But when the event turned into a debate about God, I left. Ali came after me, asking “Why did you leave?” I then told him my life story. He listened, then replied, “Would you like to know who the real God is?” Because I didn’t want to hurt his feelings, I said, “Yes.”
He started to talk to me about Jesus. And the way Ali presented the Gospel, he answered a lot of my questions. I felt peace as he was sharing the Gospel, and he invited me to come to his store the next day, where he continued to share the Gospel. That day, I prayed to receive Jesus into my heart, and Ali gave me a Bible. That night, as I was reading the Bible, I came to the part where Jesus says that wherever two or three people are gathered in His name, He is there. I closed my Bible and said, “God, I am one person, but it’s nothing for You to prove that You are here and You are real.” Then I heard footsteps behind me, and my room became very heavy with a holy presence. I started to shake and cry. It was hard to breathe, and I couldn’t talk or even scream. I felt Jesus’ presence. It was then I knew that Jesus was real, and I believed in Him with all my heart. Today, eleven years later, I am 31 years old, and I serve Jesus all over the country. It is my honor to partner with Jesus to invite people to find faith in the real God.