Can you become a Christian in a Mosque reading a Quran?
Now that is not a question you get asked every day. In fact I don’t think I have even had such a thought cross my mind in my entire life. But today I heard a testimony like no other. I spent several hours with a former Imam from Somalia. He was from a very wealthy family, in fact, his father was a sultan. Here is his story.
Hussein was the first born son. He came from a very strong fundamentalist Muslim family in Somalia. He was a leader in school and was selected to be sent to study Arabic in Saudi Arabia after scoring the highest test scores in Somalia at the local school for Arabic. He was very passionate in his desire to know and serve God. After many years of study he determined that he had so much sin in his life that he must do something about it. He literally moved into the Mosque and set up a tent and lived in it.
At first he would go out only for meals and the bathroom. Later he sent out for food and relieved himself privately in his tent. Fellow Muslims were so impressed with his piety and devotion that they frequently put money in his tent as they passed. He told me this was not totally uncommon in Islam, for a brother to devote himself totally to praying and serving God in private and thus avoiding the sins and pleasures of the world.
There was a terrible problem that he discovered during this time. His sins grew worse. His thoughts more troubling. Even though he shut out the world he could not flee himself. He complained to Allah. He studied the Quran all day. He became troubled about Islam and after a long time he determined two problems must be resolved. Why did Allah not help him with his sin and who was this Jesus of the bible? Who was this Isa of the Quran? Why did Mohamed not perform miracles, but Jesus did? Why is Jesus called the word of God, the one raised from the dead and the creator and not considered more than a man?
He learned all these things about Isa/Jesus in the Quran and he began to ask many questions and the local Imam’s did not like to answer them. He left his tent. Eventually, as he continued this line of questioning others began to avoid him and he was even beaten in the streets once. He went off by himself and collapsed and cried out to God to help him. Then he returned to the mosque and ceased to ask others about Jesus and Allah.
Back in his tent he made a decision. He studied the Quran and had heard others speak about Jesus and decided that Jesus must be the Son of God. The Quran said so. And if Jesus was the Son of God and died and rose again then he would believe in Jesus, and turn from Allah. He literally, prayed to Jesus to save him, sitting in a mosques with a Quran in his hand. And he told me on that day, he was a Christian. He had never read the bible nor heard a real sermon. He decided to flee Muslim controlled Somalia and seek others and the freedom to seek Jesus.
These were the years just before Somalia collapsed into anarchy. Before, Black Hawk Down, the movie, was made or the events that lead to it even occurred. Hussein left on the last plane that fled the country the day the government fell and in fact so many people died that last day that his clothing that he left behind were mailed to his mother and he was reported as dead. Not because anyone knew he was dead but because nearly everyone died at the airport that day when the rebels took over and he never returned to get his belongings.
Everyone was simply certain that he could not have survived. His mother literally held the funeral banquet for her assumed dead son and mourned his death. In reality he left the airport with bombs exploding on the ground and the runway being overrun as he looked out the window. There were more people on the plane than seats and the security team boarded and threatened to kill people if they did not reduce their numbers to one person per seat.
No one would leave. Hussein and others told the guards they would have to decide who lived and left the country and who died and would be thrown from the plane. The guards killed no one and announce that they would all die because the plane was over loaded. It was either January or June of 1991. Sorry I am not sure and can’t read my own notes.
The plane flew and landed in Omar. I got the impression that Hussein and the others on the plane had no idea where the plan was even going. They just wanted out. After a few years things settled down and he had been working as a sheep herder in Omar. Obviously he had not made it to a country where he could learn about Jesus. There he raised enough for a ticket to Ethiopia, fearing to return to the bedlam that was in Somalia, he thought this would be a good place to meet Christians. Up till then he had never seen or spoken to another Christian. He just prayed and hungered to know more about Jesus.
He landed in Ethiopia and wandered the streets. He came up to Coptic Christian and Orthodox Christian churches but they were all empty. Finally, he entered a movie theatre and a man sitting next to him ask him where he was from. He told the man that he was a Christian from Somalia looking for other Christians. The man took him to a place where he knew of a Christian. At first the Christians would not talk to him as they feared a Somali was simply trying to gain access to the Christian community to do them harm. Probably much like the early Christians feared the Apostle Paul.
After a few days they decided he really was a Christian. They gave him a bible and began a three month program of daily bible study. He learned about repentance, the first lesson that he was taught. Becoming a new creature was his second lesson, being born again and then they taught him how to study the bible.
After three months he felt he was ready to return to Somalia. He returned to his parents and they were so excited to see him. He did not share of his new faith but quickly moved to the coast to start a business. His father was very wealthy so he helped him get started. He longed for fellowship and quickly decided that he wanted to study the bible more and learn about being a faithful believer. He sold his business and moved to Kenya.
I now see him from time to time. While we are not walking together in our ministries we do enjoy visiting. I have learned so much about Somalia and the people from there, both still in the country and here in Kenya. There are some local missionaries offering to send him back into the country to evangelize. He tells me this shaking his head. If he goes back and shares he will die, he assures me.
There are thousands and thousands of Somali’s here he announces and wants to reach them without going back to his home country. Now, his own family knows he is a Christian and he would surely be hunted and killed if he returned. While sharing in East Leigh is dangerous, it is nothing like sharing in Somalia.
I am hoping that as our relationship grows we can someday work together. One of the problems with former Imam’s is that they are having money thrown at them by the West and even local churches to come and share their testimonies. It is hard for them to get involved in real discipleship or even ministry to the lost as they are celebrities on the speaking circuit. I have seen this before.
I know other Imam’s that are in this situation. It is a shame in a way. While we love to hear their testimonies their talents and message is all directed at speaking in the big churches for the big fees to believers. It makes me appreciate my Imam in my group. He may still speak every once in a while someplace, but he is a vital part of our ministry and focused on discipleship. He is paying the price to share with the lost putting himself at risk each week talking and sharing with unsaved Muslims from Arab back ground countries.
Please pray for us as we go as sheep among wolves. The harvest is plentiful, the workers are few. But what is amazing is that in nations all over the world, Muslims are crying out to know the true God. To know who this Isa is. This man the Quran calls the son of God. The one who is raised from the dead. The Jesus of miracles. Lord lead us to them and bless us as we answer the questions of who the true God is. Radical Islam is driving thousands if not millions of Muslims to seek alternatives. I would like to tell them of the true Alternative. The Lord of lords, and King of Kings.