Saved from a Muslim Background
My name is Hatice. I was born in Germany, into a Turkish, Muslim family. My parents named me Hatice, after the first wife of the prophet Mohammad. Between my conversion from Islam to Christianity, I tried to find answers in other places as well, and I'd like to share with you how I became a Christian. I hope that my testimony will help and encourage you to search for God and not to give up, even if you meet with obstacles on your way.
As a child I wasn't convinced by the Islamic faith. However, since I was born as a Muslim, I didn't have much of a choice. So, I did what was expected of me: I learned verses from the Qur'an by heart and said them as prayers. By the time I was 10 years old I had to have a headscarf on and I wasn't allowed to wear any revealing clothing. We went to the mosque regularly, celebrated the Islamic festivals and kept the fast at Ramadan. The only thing I didn't do was read the Qur'an, because I would have needed to learn Arabic first. Due to a lack of motivation I had already failed at learning the alphabet, so I never really got anywhere. I felt that these practices were only dead rites anyway. Still, I believed that there was a God, I just didn't know what, or who He was. Neither the Islamic faith nor Allah filled the emptiness that I felt in my heart. I was terrified of going to Hell. Very often I couldn't sleep; while lying in my bed I cried to God that he would help me and take this hopelessness and loneliness away.
On top of all that, my ‘home' didn't really reflect the harmony and friendly atmosphere you would expect from a family. We didn't have normal relationships with each other because we didn't respect each other, and we fought a lot. From childhood on I was beaten nearly every day - most of the time for no reason. I felt worthless, unloved, unwanted and very lonely. Often I wished I had never been born, or thought about suicide, but I knew that I would go to Hell for that. Therefore, I decided rather to endure the hell here on earth; yet, there was a spark of hope that my life might still turn around one day...
When I was about 10 I became interested in reading books. Soon I found that these stories helped me to flee reality, and I began to read day and night. It began to influence my way of thinking: I started to think in pictures, like in films. This led to many misunderstandings, for I would imagine conversations occurring differently than they really had, and, conversely, it was difficult for others to understand what I meant by what I said. Although I realised that I was different and even felt that I was "not normal," I considered myself to be someone “special” and better than other people.
...I changed... into a loud, provocative and rebellious character...
By and by, I changed from the once shy, quiet and rather nice person that I had been, into a loud, provocative and rebellious character. I started to smoke, got piercings, drank alcohol and smoked hashish. I went from one party to the next and came home late – if at all. I certainly didn't wear a headscarf anymore, but dyed my hair instead. Even further, I wore crazy looking clothes, had matted hair, and more and more was going beyond moderation in order to ‘fill' the boredom and the emptiness in my heart. All that seemed to draw me away from God more than I had felt to begin with. I didn't respect my parents anymore, became hardhearted, self-centred, proud and bitter, towards people and the world in general. Through the drugs I took and the music I was listening to (e.g. Nirvana), my periods of depression grew worse. They now appeared suddenly and at unexpected times, which nearly drove me mad. Already when I was a child I had seen demons or ghosts, but now they seemed to be so real and I could feel their presence. In a state of being “high” it was as if I left my body and I could see myself as a shadow sitting next to myself. Although I wasn't smoking hash that often and stopped it completely after a year, it had a lasting negative effect on my memory and my behaviour.
For quite a while already, I had 'managed' not to think about God anymore, but when I did think about Him, the subject didn't give me any peace. I decided to find out if Islam was the right faith. If yes, I would commit myself fully to it. I got a Turkish translation of the Qur'an from my mum. When I started reading it, I felt so sick that I couldn't continue and I decided that Islam couldn't be the right faith. At the same time I visited some Christian churches, but they all seemed to be as lifeless as Islam, just a bit more 'peaceful'.
My boyfriend at that time then took me to some Charismatic and Pentecostal gatherings. Although I didn't intend to become a Christian, at one of these gatherings my heart was softened and I decided to "give my life to Jesus". I joined one of the charismatic churches, got baptised by full immersion and received prayer to receive the Holy Spirit as the Bible describes, when a person is ‘filled with the Holy Ghost', ‘born again of the Spirit', and speaks in a new tongue. I didn't receive the Spirit though. I called myself a Christian and although I believed that Jesus forgives sin, in my heart I still felt like a sinner, and nobody could help me. I went to several churches and gatherings to try and receive the Holy Spirit, but I never did. I became frustrated: the Bible or these churches had to be wrong, or I was simply damned - God could not save me.
At the same time, some friends told me that they were in contact with a guy called George from a Pentecostal church I hadn't heard of. They asked if I'd like to meet up with him, I hesitated at first, but then went with two of my friends to their meetings. As I wasn't really interested, I broke the contact off after a while. I had been to many churches and was tired of them and couldn't see a difference in this church.
...I had decided to completely break off the subject of God and have fun instead...
At that time I was 20 years old and had moved away from home. I always thought that my problems would vanish as soon as I was away from home, but I realised that wasn't the case, because I was doing worse than ever. This was mainly because I had decided to completely break off the subject of God and have fun instead, but I found no pleasure or joy in anything. I was restless, and for several months had not slept properly, which caused me to feel half dead; I was at the end of myself. One night, when I couldn't sleep at all, suicidal thoughts seemed to force their way through in my mind. I was scared and in despair, for I wasn't able to switch these thoughts off.
Suddenly, God came into my mind again. Before I gave in to suicide I wanted to give God a chance. I opened the Bible and prayed; nothing was happening, but I kept thinking of that Pentecostal church again, and that maybe it was different to the others. I wanted to give it a chance, because I didn't want to stand before God after committing suicide and find out that I could have gotten my answers there, and even receive the Holy Spirit. The same evening a friend of mine and I met up with George. This time I asked questions and was attentive. Although I didn't comprehend the scriptures George was showing us from the Bible, I could see that he took his Bible seriously, didn't compromise with it and that his life was directed by the Word of God. I could sense that he was not a hypocrite and really cared for our souls. I hadn't seen that before in any other pastor or church. To see if this church was different, I went to further meetings, where I was shown from the Bible that to be saved, I needed to receive the Holy Spirit. So many reasons not to go through with it went through my mind. Eventually though, I decided to just try it out; if it didn't work for me I would simply not attend this church. I received prayer and the laying on of hands. Although I didn't receive the Holy Spirit straight away, I trusted that I still would. Three days later, while praying alone in my flat, I had a very strong feeling that I should take my piercing out, and did so. Seconds later, I received the Holy Spirit and started praying in a language I hadn't learned before. That was the proof for me that the Bible is true. This is one of many scriptures that describe this event I experienced: ACTS 19:6
"And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied".
Since then, my life and my character have changed and I am a new person today: 2 CORINTHIANS 5:17
"Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new".
"For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses".
...it becomes easier to follow Him and to understand who He is...
Looking back, I don't regret the things I had to go through to get saved, for I know what Jesus did for me. The scripture in COLOSSIANS 1:13-14 describes this perfectly:
"Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sin". Not everything in me changed straight away; in the beginning it was hard work, but worth fighting through; for today I am a happy Christian. It doesn't mean that I am perfect now, I still have my struggles and many things to change; but the more I get to know God (reading the Bible and praying), it becomes easier to follow Him and to understand who He is:
"Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me: for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light" (MATTHEW 11:28-30).
I also understand better the relationship that I can have with God. Jesus is God's Son, and the Bible says this is the same relationship I can have with God, as it is described in ROMANS 8:14-17:
"For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together".
Thanks for reading my testimony!