WRITTEN BY BARRY CHASE
I was born and raised as a Muslim, and learned Islamic practices from my family. The Quran taught me to respect and love everyone, especially my parents. When I was 24 years old, I performed Umrah, (a pilgrimage to Mecca that can be taken any time of year), with my family. But unlike others, I felt only loneliness. I wondered how these religious rituals would satisfy God! As I was reading and learning from the Quran, I could not agree with some parts of it. So I had been questioning it, but did not have a valid reason why. For instance one of my questions was:
Why did the Prophet Muhammad say that "I have been commanded by Allah to wage war against non-Muslims and kill them until and unless they testify that there is no God but Allah"? (Quran Verse 9:5)
Over time, these kinds of questions loosened my trust in Islam. Nevertheless, I could not deny the fact and existence of a Creator. About three years later, someone challenged me to get to know Christianity by reading the Bible. At the time, I refused to take the challenge since I already know Jesus' story from the Quran. But a few weeks after, I became curious to find out the differences between Jesus' story in the Bible and the Quran, so I started looking for a Bible to read and prove that Christianity was just another religion full of rituals. As it is prohibited to practice other religions other than Islam in my country, I decided to take a trip to Turkey, where I would have the opportunity to find a Bible. As soon as I reached Istanbul, I started looking for a church. In less than two weeks, miraculously, I found a church where they had the Bible in my language!
I wondered how these religious rituals would satisfy God!
I started by reading the New Testament and it seemed very strange to see that in the Bible, Jesus claimed to be God while in the Quran He was a mere prophet. It took me almost a month to understand the message of the Gospel and I reached the point that I had to figure out which was the truth. So I did a quick research on:
After considering all the evidence, I came to the conclusion that the New Testament was truly accurate in what it said. It blew my mind when I understood that I had separated myself from God through my sins and I could not bring myself back. But He knew, and had offered me a way back to Him, out of His love.
I realized how devastating sin was, and how it had removed me from the source of all goodness: life, love, hope, joy, peace; and I was so heartbroken at knowing how much God loved me, and that He came so selflessly to this world to suffer and die in my place and set me free from all my sins. And now, He has left me here for the purpose of loving others and leading them to Christ by sharing His love with them.
I was so heartbroken at knowing how much God loved me, and that He came so selflessly to this world to suffer and die in my place.
Although I heard the message of the Gospel, it was hard to accept because there was a lot I would have to give up to become a Christian. And the biggest one was being accused of apostasy, which is punishable by death in my country. And besides that, my family would feel as if I, the only son, had betrayed them by accepting Christ.
This was keeping me from deciding, so I began to pray, “God, I can not figure this out, please talk to me so I know what the truth is.”
Eventually after a few weeks, I attended the Sunday service. After the worship, the pastor invited all unbelievers to the front so he could pray for them, so I went up. Until then, I did not realize that God has been talking to me the whole time through his Word. It is hard to explain, but at that moment I had a strong feeling and assurance in God’s message, and that I could trust Him completely. So I acknowledged Jesus as my Lord and Savior, and He has owned my heart ever since.
When I came back to my hometown, because of my fears, I could not share what had happened with my family. But almost after a year, when I returned to Turkey again, I told them about my faith. They thought I was out of my mind! This time I stayed in Istanbul to study and work. And after some years, my family respected my decision.
I acknowledged Jesus as my Lord and Savior, and He has owned my heart ever since.
After about two years of very busy life in Istanbul, praying for a calmer life, I was able to go to Spain through a summer school program. And there I did experience a much greater calm in my life.
Eventually, I ended up coming to Portugal and I want to testify that God has always been faithful throughout my journey. Despite facing some difficulties and challenges, I am so grateful that He has always been there for me and blessed me with the unimaginable.