Khalil*, born into a Christian family in Jordan, hid a Quran in his bedroom as a kid, began to pray in a Muslim way, and converted to Islam when he was eleven. “I just didn’t want to go to hell,” he said. When Jesus revealed Himself to Khalil, he changed. Now his mission is to show other struggling teens that Jesus is the answer for their lives too.
In primary school Khalil was one of six Christians amidst 1,200 Muslim children. “The faith of my family was questioned everywhere I went,” he recalls. “I vividly remember a conversation with a teacher. ‘Are you a Christian? You surely will go to hell,’ he said. I replied: ‘But I don’t want to go to hell, I want to go to heaven.’ His answer was clear: I must convert to Islam.”
Islam is omnipresent in the Jordan public school system, as experienced by Khalil. “The Arabic classes would be about the Quran, the Sunni’s, and Mohammed. But also Science class would start with a Quran reading.”
Even at home the indoctrination went on. “Every TV-channel broadcasts Islamic programs. And on Fridays the imams in the mosque regularly preach that all Jews and Christians will go to hell. Since their sermons are usually broadcast in the streets using loudspeakers, everyone will hear those messages.”
“I really asked myself the question: why am I not a Muslim? Christians are such a minority, perhaps we are wrong indeed like everyone is saying. One day I walked home from school alone. I lifted my eyes up and said: ‘Listen God, I believe You are there. I want to go to heaven, not to hell. I will search for You. Please show me how to get there.’”
Back home, Khalil started following Islam, initially in secret. “I purchased a Quran, hid it in my room, and read it when no one would notice. And on Friday I’d follow the Islamic Friday Prayer on TV. My teachers told me that was no problem; I could be a good Muslim in secret as long as I read the Quran and prayed regularly.”
After a few months, Khalil became more outspoken and publicly lived the life of a Muslim. “I woke up at 4 AM to watch Islamic TV programs before going to school. And I told my sister she should cover her head since the Quran orders so.”
The conversion process took him about a year. During that time Khalil’s parents started to get more and more worried about his Islamic beliefs. They asked his older brother to intervene. “He had been going to an Evangelical church and asked me to come to a meeting with a special speaker who was supposed to give me the right answers.
After the meeting, a believer started a conversation with him, asking if Khalil believed in Jesus and sharing with him that He would return one day to judge all nations. “That was an easy one. Of course I believed that because that is also found in the Quran. But he caught me off guard when he asked: ‘be honest with yourself and with God. What if Jesus came to you right now? What would you do?’”
Khalil recalls that, when he tried to answer this question, God showed him a vision. “Somebody came to me dressed in white with arms opened. He was looking at me. I knew it was Jesus. I started crying and explained to the believer that I knew who Jesus was but that I was scared.”
The other man responded: “Do you know why you are scared? Because Jesus is only in your head, not in your heart. As soon as you let Him live in your heart, you won’t have to be afraid anymore.’ He asked me if I wanted that to happen, and I said yes.”
Just like he had done a little over a year before, Khalil lifted his eyes upwards. “I prayed: ‘God, You showed me the way; now it’s my responsibility to follow You. I will surrender my life to You and tell people to follow you.’’’
Khalil decided to start a Christian ministry to encourage young people to read the Bible and to work on a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ.
Now in several locations in the country, youth groups gather regularly to study the Scripture and to learn from it. “Christianity is not just something that is on your ID (every government-issued ID in Jordan mentions one’s religion). You have to be born again in Christ and live as a real believer.”
*Name changed for security reasons