(This story took place in Detroit Metro, and is the companion story to “What to do When a Muslim Walks through the Doors of Your Church.”) -coming in April

Meet Joyce, a woman who has been influenced by our non-profit organization and would like to share her story with you.

My name is Joyce. I was born into a strict Muslim family in the Middle East. I graduated from high school when I was only 17. After I graduated, my parents forced me to marry a man who drank and did drugs because they believed it is better for a girl to marry than to go to college. This example of how women are treated was probably the beginning of my discontent with Islam. And so, I started my married life with this man. It proved to be a very, very difficult one because he insulted and beat me. He also beat our two children.

One day, my Christian friend came to visit me. I shared with her how difficult life was with my husband.

At that point, she shared with me Genesis 2:24: “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and the two become one flesh.”

I was really surprised by what I heard because marriage in Islam is very different; there’s no love. In Islam, Allah even commands a husband to beat his wife if she does not obey him. (Surat al Nisaa 34).

After that, I began my search for Christian faith. I started by reading the Bible on the internet. I would then go to my Christian friend and ask her all my questions. Day by day my interest to know more about Christianity grew. At the same time, I was scared of my parents and of my husband. If they found out I was reading the Bible, I feared that they would kill me!

One day, I read John 3:16. I felt at that point that I wanted to know and follow Jesus. And so it was that I began to trust in Jesus Christ and follow Him in June of 2016.

One day, I asked my husband if I could go to America for a secure and good life for my children. God did a miracle. My husband gave me permission to go, and my neighbor helped me to get a visa to travel to America. I arrived in the U.S. in February 2017. In the airport, I was scared and nervous, especially since I had my two children with me. There, in the airport, I broke down and started crying.

But right there and then, God sent me someone who spoke my language. This man hosted me and my children for two days. After that, he sent me to stay with his friend. She was Muslim, but I didn’t know it. I began to share my story with her, and why I had changed to become Christian. Sadly, she, in turn, shared with my family, especially about my Christian faith. My family became very angry, and my father vowed,” If I ever see you, I will kill you.”

So, then I went back to the Christian man who had first helped me. He began looking through the Internet and he found St. Paul Lutheran Church. It was quite close to where I was living, and their website had 4 1/2 stars. So, I went to meet the pastor. In the beginning, I was worried that he might try calling my parents or the police. But there was no need to worry. I found the pastor very welcoming. However, we still had a problem, which is when POBLO International Ministries ask if they could help by providing an interpreter. POBLO sent missionary, Joy Markus. She helped my pastor share the Bible with me, and later, Joy also taught me from the Bible. At that point, I became good friends with the pastor and his church.

The pastor and the church helped me get an apartment and enroll my children in school. I also became friends with Joy, and her Ministry, POBLO International Ministries the non-profit organization. One day, Pastor Gary Rohwer and Joy came to visit and pray with me. They also delivered a sofa, for which I was very grateful!

It was in November 2017 that my baptism at our Lutheran (LCMS) Church took place. A group from POBLO International Ministries was present for my baptism, and Missionary Joy stood as sponsor for my daughter as she too was baptized. It was the best and most joy-filled day of my entire life!

As I look back on my journey, I am convinced more than ever that God was always a step ahead of me, leading me by the hand, creating all the miracles (my husband giving his permission, my visa, the man in the airport who helped me, Pastor and his wonderful congregation who have stood by me and helped me, and POBLO Ministries for their amazing support.

And, in light of it all, this is what I have concluded. If God could do all this for me, allowing me to hear the Gospel online, get out of a Muslim country safely, and provide loving Christians to teach me about Christ and help me, I believe He can do the same for any Muslim person anywhere. And, in fact, I know that is just what He wants to do. Thank you Pastor, the Lutheran church, and POBLO International Ministries. You’ve changed my life and the life of my children forever!