From Muslim to Church Leader
Many people do not realize that there are over twenty million Muslims in China. Fatima*, for example, was born and raised in a Hui family. The Hui people are a predominately Muslim ethnic group in China with a population of over ten million. When Fatima came to faith, she knew that she could potentially lose her family, but she was ready to pay the price.
Fatima’s journey to faith started when she worked as a manager for a company. Eager to be promoted, she hired a woman named Jane* to be her English tutor. They quickly became good friends. Jane consistently invited Fatima to come to her church; each time, Fatima politely refused and reminded Jane that she was a Hui (and by default a Muslim). One day, she finally agreed to go to a Christmas event because she was told Jane would be sharing that day. Fatima sat next to Jane’s mother. At the end of the service, Jane presented an altar call. Fatima was surprised when no one answered; she wondered why not, since Jane did such a good job sharing the gospel. “Would you like to go to the front stage?” Jane’s mother suddenly asked Fatima. Then she took Fatima’s hand and walked with her to the altar. Many followed them. “I really didn’t believe in Jesus,” Fatima laughs. “I just wanted to be supportive.”
Still, as Jane continued to share Jesus and read the Bible with Fatima, she gradually experienced a spiritual awakening. One day, she accepted Jesus as her Savior and suddenly felt a deep, inexplicable joy. That night, she had a vision of seven men who were chosen to serve the Lord, just as it is described in Acts 6. She immediately asked God what the vision meant. Then she heard a voice calling her to be a servant of God. “I didn’t know what to do and couldn’t fall asleep, so I waited until 6am the next morning to call Jane.” She shared this unusual experience with Jane to confirm the calling. “I understood that by following that calling, I would pay a very high price,” says Fatima. “But I had peace in my heart and knew it was the right thing to do.”
Fatima made the decision to quit her job in order to join seminary. Her monthly allowance decreased significantly, but it was just money. The next sacrifice her new faith would demand was much weightier.
The time came when she had to tell her parents that she had been secretly studying the Bible and going to church for months. On her way home, she imagined out all possible reactions from her parents. “I was so scared. I knew it would break their hearts. Losing them was a very real possibility.”
Fatima knew that her father loved her very much and did not believe he would actually kill her. “However, after I told him, I had never seen him so angry. He shouted at me, saying he never had a daughter. My mom even slapped me. She had never hit me before. She shouted at me to get out of the house, telling me to never come back home. They closed the doors behind me. I burst into tears and begged them to take me back. No matter how hard I knocked on the door, it remained shut.” Her only choice was to go to Jane’s house where she knew she would be welcomed.
Fatima tried to contact her father via phone several times, but he hung up every time he recognized her voice. One day, she heard that her father was sick, so she immediately rushed to the hospital. When her dad saw Fatima standing in front of him, he turned his head to the other side of the bed. She couldn’t hold back tears and called him “dad,” the way she had said his name for years. Her mother pushed her out of the hospital room and said her father’s sickness was a punishment from Allah for their disobedient daughter. Fatima came back to the hospital the next day and he still refused to see her; she kept coming back over and over again to show her kindness and love.
One day, he finally turned his head and looked at her for a long time in silence. The next day, he began to talk to her. Her mom said, “I don’t know what you believe, but I now know it must be good.” Fatima’s father finally believed in Jesus, and on his deathbed, he prayed a prayer for eternal peace. He was well known among the local Muslim community and many imams came to the funeral. Fatima asked one of the imams if her father would go to heaven. He couldn’t answer her question. “I know where he is right now; he is with the Lord Jesus,” Fatima said with tears in her eyes.
Soon after her father passed away, Fatima’s mother also became a follower of Jesus. Initially, she did not go to church or let others know about her faith. But now she has become best friends with Jane’s mother, and they go to church together every Sunday.
“I am so grateful that the Lord called me to be his servant,” Fatima shares with a sparkle in her eye. Today, Fatima continues to eagerly spread the gospel, and has become a leader in a church with about 200 members.
*Names changed for security reasons
Father, thank You for the faith that You have given Fatima, and for the work You are accomplishing through her. Even as we weep over the story of her trials as she came to faith, we rejoice in the way the light of Christ was reflected through her to her parents. We celebrate with her in the true joy she now has in You, and also in the faith You have given her parents, as well. Thank You for Jane’s unyielding desire to share the gospel with Fatima. Lord, be with these precious sisters as they continue to serve You among the Hui people. And, we pray for an outpouring of Your Spirit among the Muslim people of China; that there might be a mighty turning to Christ. In the name of Jesus, whose light we reflect in a world of sin and darkness, Amen.