Something happened that Roman, now a former Muslim, never expected: tears, prayers to Jesus, repentance and joy. Sitting in a service in a Baptist church, the man who had devoted his life to persecuting Christians became a follower of Jesus.
This article first appeared here.
A Former Muslim and His Encounter With Jesus
“Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.” (Jer. 29: 12-13)
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.” (Matt. 7:7-8)
The words of God in the Old and New Testaments remind us that our God wants to see all of His creation come to a saving knowledge and trust in Him through Jesus. And that when we seek Him and His Kingdom, we will find Him. While the holy month of Ramadan is often a month of increased pressure for Christians whose faith stands out more than usual during this time, God continues to work in peoples’ hearts and bring them to Him. During Ramadan, many Muslims will earnestly seek God through prayer and fasting and the practice of giving charitable gifts.
In Central Asia believers, especially former Muslims, live under increasing persecution from a variety of sources, from dictatorships to a surrounding culture generally dominated by Islam. In many of these contexts, being a Jesus-follower is extremely difficult. But we know that God is not slowed by dictators or cultures—Jesus has the power to break into any context and change hearts and lives.
From Persecutor to Christ-Follower
A few years ago, Christians, especially those from a Muslim background, were the No. 1 target for Roman*, a devout Muslim in Kazakhstan. He considered them “betrayers of the real faith.”
“By ‘betrayers,’ I meant Christians with a Muslim background,” he says.
Roman had no problem confronting, challenging and persecuting Christians. He was like many fasting Muslims during Ramadan who intentionally confront Christians, drilling them with questions about their faith with the purpose of tripping them up and even making them question their faith.
Last year during Ramadan, Roman went a step farther to express his devotion to Islam. He decided to pay a visit to the local Baptist church in the area for the sole purpose of interrupting “betrayers of the real faith.”
“I went to the church service during Ramadan because I considered myself to be a devout Muslim,” he says. “I [wanted] to prove my faith to Allah.”