My name is Bassam. I was born a Muslim in the Middle East. I was zealous for God, as I knew Him at that time. When I was eighteen, I joined an Islamic group. A relative of mine led the group. Shortly after I joined, they started training me to use guns and make bombs.
It was at that time that I began to question Islam. I was not comfortable hurting people for God. After all, Islam was supposed to be the peaceful path to God. I was sure that I had missed something or misunderstood the teachings of God. With the help of one of the leaders of my Islamic group, I started studying the Qur’an and the Hadith all over again. After a couple of years, I was astonished at what I was finding. Islam was not the peaceful path to God as I believed. It was actually a violent religion. My faith was turned upside-down. Islam was not bringing me closer to God. It was leading me away from God.
Knowing that I had been on the wrong path my entire life was very painful to me. I had an emotional breakdown of sorts. I started using drugs and fell further and further away from God. Eventually, I stopped talking about God at all.
One day I met a man who was full of love. He loved everyone no matter who they were. He even continued to love a man in the Islamic group who wanted him killed. Why? Because he did not pay Jiziah (a special tax that Christians and Jews have to pay). I found out later that this man was a Christian. This was surprising to me since Muslims talk so bad about them. This man didn’t know much about Christian theology, but he did know how to love people. Eventually he became my friend. One day I asked him for a copy of the Bible.
I started reading the Bible, and began discovering big differences between what the Bible says and what I heard from Muslims. I was really struck by the fact that everyone, except Jesus, had sinned at one time or another. Even those who were called God’s people like Abraham, Jacob, and David, did something wrong. There was no one who was righteous before God except Jesus. He was the highest example of a human being, and worthy to be followed.
I struggled with my faith for about a year. I finally decided I wanted to follow God as he shows himself in Jesus Christ. I prayed to Him and He was there. For the first time in my life I felt the presence of God. The feelings that came over me were so powerful that I actually ran from the room. I was overjoyed to know He was there, and deeply saddened to realize what I had been missing. From that moment on I followed Him, and He changed my life. He freed me from drugs, and made me whole again.
Jesus told us that we will be persecuted for His sake. When my father found out that I left Islam, he delivered me to the security forces, and they arrested me. I was sent to prison where I was tortured with electric shock, beatings, and other things in an attempt to force me back to Islam. When the weeks of torture failed, I was sent to solitary confinement for almost a year. Still I couldn’t deny the One who gave me life.
I finally got out of prison, and fled my country where I am still wanted for leaving Islam. I am now free. God has blessed me with many things. The most important blessing of all is the assurance that I will be with Him forever--no matter what happens. Because of His grace to me, I decided to spend the rest of my life telling people of His great love for us. “Do not be afraid, but speak and do not be silent” (Acts 18:9).
(Staff Isa and Islam – Please read about the Five Steps of Salvation so that you too can know the Savior.)
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