While growing up, many in Tara’s people group were oppressed and suffered injustices. When she would walk down the street, she was looked at as lesser than and without value, which upset her beyond words. Tara even tried to convince her friends that she wasn’t from this people group. Taking even more drastic measures, Tara would go to great lengths to hide her heritage and only pick friends from outside her people group.
Tara grew up in a devout Muslim family. At the young age of 10, she started fasting and continued even when Ramadan was completed. When her family insisted that she eat, she would hide the food because she wanted to do whatever it took to complete the fast so she would please God. Several years later, Tara decided she wanted to really have a relationship with God, which started her searching for peace. As a result, she started going to her local mosque and began studying the Qur’an. After a couple of more years, Tara became a teacher of the Qur’an at her mosque, which she thought would bring her closeness with God.
However, throughout the years, instead of gaining a feeling of approval from and closeness to God, Tara instead felt empty. Continuing to see how oppressed her people group was, she realized she didn’t want to hide her heritage any longer. Now, Tara wanted to defend them even if that meant getting involved with a political party to address the injustices. However, her parents dissuaded her from getting involved in politics because years ago many of her family members were maimed or martyred during a war. Yet Tara was truly torn between getting involved in a political party and the fear of what would happen to her if she did.
Looking for answers to the injustices all around her, Tara decided to go to Mecca in search of acceptance by God. She loved him deeply and did all she knew to do to feel his acceptance.
Tara went beyond the required 5 times of prayer every day because she truly believed performing more prayers would please God even more. However, while in Mecca, Tara did not feel closer to God. Instead, she felt like she did not belong there at all and returned home.
While attending college and living in the dorms, one of Tara’s roommates gave her a New Testament. She began reading it, but could not understand anything! So she concluded that God was not in the New Testament! Going further, Tara was determined God wasn’t in Mecca, he wasn’t Allah, and he wasn’t in the New Testament. She asked herself, “Who truly is God?” Since her own efforts to get close to him were not successful and she felt like God didn’t see her, Tara decided to quit her pursuit of him and follow the ways of the world. It was easier for her to believe God didn’t exist, as opposed to trying to get closer to him without being able to.
Until one night…
Tara felt the weight of her sin and even felt ‘dirty’ for the way she had been living. Attempting to find relief, she turned on the TV and watched the Qur’an channel all night long. But instead of receiving peace, the weight and fear of her sin became even heavier. As a result, Tara performed an Islamic washing called an ablution. She told God she wanted him to cleanse her from her sins. She admitted she didn’t know how he was going to do this, but she boldly told God he must cleanse her that very night! Afterward, Tara sent a text to a Christian friend, who later became her husband, telling him that God doesn’t see her and he won’t do what she’s asking him to do. Over and over, Tara received the same response from her friend — “THANK GOD!” Even though many had witnessed how much her friends’s life had changed when he became a follower of Jesus, Tara decided he too was crazy and couldn’t help her!
However, her friend suggested they meet the following day so Tara could explain what it was she was really asking for. The next day her friend took her to the Christian wife of one of his friends. This woman spoke to Tara about Jesus and then asked her,
Tara was completely taken back because that was one of the many requests she had made of God that no one else knew about it! Without knowing what Tara had said, this Christian woman began answering her secret ‘God only’ questions. Immediately, Tara knelt down and accepted Jesus into her heart!
From that moment on, Tara’s vision changed for the women in her people group. She used to think the only way to stand up and counter oppression and injustice was through bloodshed and violence. However, after giving her life to Jesus, Tara discovered there is a deeper and more effective way to do this and His name is Jesus. And He will save them! It has been Tara’s utmost joy to be able to share Jesus with these women and others, for them to receive salvation, and to have their hope restored.
The Lord has truly given Tara a heart for her people who live across the Middle East. Her dream is to be able to serve them all over the world and share the Good News of the Gospel. The very thing her people have spent years and sometimes their whole lives searching for can be found in Jesus. Tara longs for her people to understand their true purpose and no longer believe they lack value as the world has told them. Her prayer is that they would discover they are children of God and know they have a hope-filled future in Him.
#U N T I L J E S U S
Every testimony of a background Muslim believer has a moment— a turning point in their lives. They were full of despair, shame, confusion, apathy, or hopelessness… until Jesus. Although these believers are in distant lands, far from us in the West, we can relate to them when we think about that moment in our own lives. That moment when Jesus came and brought us hope, vision for our future, love into our hearts, or peace that everything was going to be o.k.. We encourage you to pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ living in nations where they are persecuted for their faith today and may this point of commonality bring us closer together as one body of Christ.