By Mark Ellis —
Nisreen* grew up in a Muslim home in Syria, but from a young age was mysteriously drawn toward Christians rather than the faith of her forebears.
“I didn’t have a strong belief in my religion,” she told Open Doors.
She was attracted by the sweet fragrance of Christians she met. “The love of Christ was planted in me since I was little,” she says. “I used to see how Christians’ behavior is better than ours. I’ve always liked Christians and I used to say to my parents ‘there is something connecting me and Christians.’”
As a schoolgirl, her lack of interest in Islam was apparent. “At school, when we had to memorize verses from the Quran, I didn’t want to do that.”
She married at 15 and never hid her love for Christians from her spouse. “I asked my husband to take me to the church,” she says. “I felt real comfort in a church. When my children got sick, I went to the church and prayed for them, they would get healed. I had faith in that.”
Nisreen and her family survived nearly 10 years of brutal war in northern Syria. Her city is close an area controlled by ISIS, but they never captured her town.
During the war, Nisreen’s family struggled to find adequate sustenance. One day she heard about a food distribution through a local church.
The first time she visited was a disappointment. “They couldn’t handle more families,” Nisreen told Open Doors. “But they said I should come back. I went back after 12 days.
“I was in desperate need at that moment; my children had nothing to eat. I always used to cry out to the Lord and say: ‘Lord, you are my children’s refuge.’”
When she returned to the church, a volunteer told her they couldn’t put new names on their distribution list.
“I was very tired, I was emotionally exhausted, I was crying and was very skinny,” she recalled.
She asked him for a cup of water and if she could sit down for a while.”
“It’s Ramadan, aren’t you fasting?” the volunteer asked.
“I am not fasting, this is not my belief,” she replied.
“Don’t you believe in God?” the man asked.
“I have faith in God and I feel that He is always with me, but not in the way Islam teaches,” she said.
The surprised volunteer spent an hour and a half explaining the Gospel to her.
“For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4)
Nisreen listened carefully and then asked: “You talked about Jesus and you said that He came for all people; is it possible that I could become a Christian?”
“Of course,” the man exclaimed. “Christ came for the whole world!’”
Nisreen received Jesus as her Savior and Lord that day and was born again. She returned home, filled with newfound joy: “I met Jesus and I got a food package!” she told her surprised family.
For two days she talked about how the Lord did a miracle in her life.
Later she returned to the Alliance church where she received food and the Bread of Life. “When I sat in that church service, I cried so much,” she told Open Doors. “I was there with my daughter. On the way [there], in the street I already felt such a great joy. Thank You Jesus, for leading me here.”
Nisreen joined the church’s discipleship program and began to grow in her faith. She has finished three levels of training. Her three daughters and her son also became Christians and are faithful church attendees with their mother.
Her husband still isn’t a follower of Jesus “but seems on his way,” she noted. “I always read the Bible, Old and New Testament and I often watch Christian television. I hope that one day I will give discipleship training to other people.”
Remarkably, her conversion has been accepted by most of her family. “My brother, who lives in Germany, wrote to my parents: ‘You should rejoice, Nisreen is now on the right path,’” Nisreen reported. “My father once said: ‘Since [Nisreen] was little, [she] loves Jesus; she always searched for God.’”
Only her mother-in-law isn’t happy with her being a Christian. “She says I should not go to church,” Nisreen said. “She discusses with me, we’re always fighting about it: ‘You’re leading your children away from the right path.’ My son Bashar always shares with her about Christ.”
Being a Christian has made a huge difference in Nisreen’s life. “It is indescribable, millions of things have happened,” she recounted. “Faith gives me strength. I am not afraid of life anymore. Years ago, I even tried to commit suicide. The most important for me now is Jesus in my life. I see also the difference it makes in Bashar’s, my son’s, life. He was so nervous in the past. The Bible helped him to become calmer. Every time he gets upset, he opens the Bible and calms down.”
“Let the world see that I love the Lord Jesus,” Nisreen exclaimed. “He said whoever is ashamed of Me I will be ashamed of him in front of My Father. So why would I be ashamed of Him? He is my refuge and the shelter of my children.”
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