By Mark Ellis
She hungered for a personal relationship with God, but her attempts to follow all the rituals and practices of Islam left her empty. During college studying in France, she found a loving God who satisfied her deepest yearnings.
“As a child and as a teenager I truly believed Islam was from God,” says Wafa, who grew up in a secular Muslim family in Morocco. “I truly believed Muhammad was a prophet from God and that he was the best prophet,” she notes. “I had high esteem for Islam and for Muslims.”
In her teens, a disquiet in her soul led to further exploration of her beliefs. “I was thirsty for a personal relationship with God and I thought it would happen through Islam, so I started studying Islam in depth,” she says.
“One of the things that struck me in the Quran was the description of hell as a lake of fire, with people crying and screaming,” Wafa recalls. “I really didn’t want to go to that place.”
Wafa thought if she didn’t obey God, he would throw her into hell. “I always had questions about my final destiny, where I would end up.”
In search of deepened fellowship with God, she prayed five times a day and fasted during Ramadan. After six months of focused effort to draw closer to God, she came to a surprising conclusion: “I was as empty as before and even worse.”
After she shared her struggle with a friend, she was told, “You are thinking too much. You need to stop thinking and just practice like the other people.”
“But God created me with a mind,” Wafa replied. “Doesn’t he want me to use it?” She was very confused.
Wafa decided to go to her best friend and unburden herself of every concern she had about Islam. Her friend listened quietly without interrupting for an hour, and then said, “I believe there is a God who created the universe, but Muhammad is not his prophet and the Quran is not from God.”
As Wafa listened to her reply, her eyes widened and she was temporarily speechless. She knew her friend was raised in a Muslim home. This was the first person she met who was not a Muslim. I thought all the people in Morocco are supposed to be Muslims, she thought.
Wafa went home even more confused. She sat down on her bed and cried out, “God, I am sick and tired of doing all the rituals, all the five prayers, all the fasting, and feeling so empty. Please, if I’m going to die soon, don’t send me to hell. Millions of people around me seem to believe this.
“If this religion is from you please change my heart,” she added. “If this is not from you, please show me who you are.”
Wafa entered college and applied for a visa to study abroad. A few weeks after she arrived inFrance, she met a group of Christian students who invited her to a Bible study.
“I was nicely surprised by their sincere prayer and worship, how innocent and pure, just talking to God without rituals,” she recounts. “They came to God with their sins, to confess, to praise Him, thank Him, ask Him for help. It was the first time I saw people praying like that. I was touched; I loved it.”
There was something intangible they seemed to possess. “I started liking the God of Christianity, the loving side of God that was hidden according to the Muslim teaching.”
Wafa returned to Morocco on summer vacation. She bought a Quran and began to compare it with the Bible. Again, she cried out to God and asked Him to reveal the truth to her. Is the Bible the truth or is the Quran?
One day she was walking down the street with an Algerian friend from high school. This young woman had become a Christian, but she was persecuted by her family. “She had to run from the house with no money because her family was going to hurt her badly.”
“Why am I here?” Wafa asked her Christian friend.
“God is love,” she said. “He created us because He loves us.”
These simple words touched Wafa’s heart and she couldn’t reply.
After Wafa got home, she began to ponder her friend’s words. “I suddenly realized God loves me more than my father or mother.”
Then God surprised her with a vision. “As I was walking back and forth, I saw an image of a woman giving birth to a baby,” she recounts. “God told me, ‘I loved humanity so much they were delivered out of my heart.’”
She called her friend immediately. “You’re right!” she exclaimed. “God really loves me. I trust every word you said to me.”
When Wafa returned to France, she went to her friends’ Bible study and heard a teaching about Jesus’ death on the cross. “It was a message I heard dozens of times,” she says. “But before, I was completely blind. I couldn’t understand the purpose of Jesus coming and giving His life for us.”
But on this night, God’s Spirit opened her eyes to believe. “I understood it all in a fraction of a second,” she says. “I started weeping. My heart was torn. I cried and cried.”
By the Holy Spirit, she finally understood that Jesus gave up the riches of heaven to come down to sinful humanity, that he lived a sinless life and chose to go to the cross and die.
She felt Jesus speak to her heart. “I did not deserve to die, but I did it for you, Wafa. My purpose was that you would spend all of eternity with me.”
Wafa continued to weep as she considered the magnitude of the price paid for her salvation. “If you did this for me there is no reason to deny you or reject you,” she prayed. “I truly want you. I want to be yours.”
As Wafa glanced around at her friends in the Bible study, she saw the unmistakable joy on their faces. “I am reconciled with my Creator,” she told them. “He opened my eyes and set me free.”
Wafa’s story was supplied to God Reports by Call of Love Ministries, which reaches Muslims in North America and around the world. The ministry equips the western church with tools to reach the Muslims around them, so that Muslims come to know Christ as their personal Savior, new Muslim converts receive sound discipleship and training, and Muslim background believers (MBBs) become spiritual leaders and ambassadors in their communities. They also are involved in plantng and equipping MBB churches around the globe.
Do you want to know God personally? Here are four steps…