It was a joyful day, and one where the tears flowed freely from the pent up emotions, the decades of wanting to know Christ, to be with Christians, and to be part of the church. Sana, the mother, confessed, “I wanted to be a Christian all my life, even before marriage.” And Naureen, the daughter, said at the baptism, “There are no words to express how I feel.” Honestly, I think any one of us would shed tears of joy too! Sana and Naureen had a love for Jesus, and believed that He is the One who answers prayer. But how to reach Him? And through whom? It really speaks to the issue of religious freedom, which Americans don’t think about that much.
Into this mix, God placed missionary Cynthia Khan of POBLO International. Cynthia first met Sana and Naureen through Naureen’s sister. One day, Cynthia had a Holy Spirit moment in which she felt led to call Naureen. “Thank you,” Naureen said, “You have no idea how much I needed someone to talk to, and to pray with.” At that point, Cynthia began passing Bible verses electronically to Naureen every day, letting her know that someone cared. Three months passed. One day Naureen called: “Please come—I need prayer.” Cynthia went, along with her husband, Rev. Khurram Khan, POBLO’s executive director. That day Sana and Naureen shared their whole life story, every hurt and pain. It was as if they had just been waiting for someone to share with. That day, Cynthia learned that both mother and daughter had endured years of oppression, the kind of verbal and emotional abuse that women suffer under Islam—the horrible way they are treated in the culture and the lack of freedom.
That’s when Cynthia and Pastor Khurram could really begin to articulate the Gospel. And they were so ready to receive the good news about love, forgiveness, and acceptance through Christ, even though they grew up Muslim. It was a case of the low-hanging fruit. As Cynthia says, “We had no idea how much they loved Jesus and how much they wanted to come to church, but simply were waiting for the chance. This story tells us that true religious freedom is priceless. Also, that timing is everything. And certainly, that God is the One who makes all things possible. Sana and Naureen will continue their walk with Jesus as they become members of St. John Lutheran Church, one of POBLO’s mission partners. They already are experiencing the great joy of being able to freely worship and volunteer, without fear. These, our new sisters in Christ, have found America to be the land of the free. And that, in itself, is a great gift!