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Reformed. Christianity. Evangelism. Modern Culture.
This is the third and final part of Kathy’s breath-taking testimony. [Read Part 1 and Part 2 ] Her journey from depravity to grace in Christ. Kathy had become a strict and chaste muslim. She was a good muslim and a good person to the best of her knowledge. Gone were the days of High school juvenile delinquency. Now as Islams’ poster child, speaking at conferences and at mosque openings everything seemed to be going right. Or was it?
Kathy and the Law
Though I had blamed it on my husband’s lack of spiritual guidance, I could not keep the rules of Islam any better than the children of Israel had been able to keep the laws of Moses. The many, many rules of Islam were in a way, a good introduction to me about the Covenant of the Law. Though they are completely different, man-made rules, the Islamic rules would give me an understanding of life under the old Covenant of the Law for the Jewish people. Later I would realize that it was the experience of trying to live under this system of rules and regulations that would make me understand all the more why it was necessary for the New Covenant to be put in place by God. All we as humans can offer is a broken covenant. His law was but a mirror for us to look into and see our unworthiness. His Law speaks of Himself and what we must to do be in communion with Him, and there is no way a fallen human can keep it. Thus, because He knew we could not keep it, and yet He loved us and wanted to be our Friend, He offered us another way – through the perfect atoning sacrifice of His Son, to pay the penalty for the Law we had broken. And I praise Him daily for it – but that realization would come much later.
My marriage continued to weaken over time, and the arguments we had became more frequent. The emotional abuse became more terrible, punctuated with periods of physical abuse. Because my family and I were no longer close, and I didn’t want to prove them right – who wants to hear an “I told you so!” from anyone? – I stayed. We were married a bit more than ten years, and during the last 5 of the marriage, I left seven times. Like most victims of abuse, breaking the cycle of abuse was difficult and I always blamed myself for the abuse. A lot of “if only I had don’t this differently” and “I’ll just not argue back,” type excuses made me go back again and again. The abuse got to the point, that I was eventually placed on anti-depressant medications.
Kathy’s marriage deteriorated until they got divorced. But She continued in Islam stronger than before. It is not to be taken that all muslim men abuse their wives.
My life had been a series of bad choices, and Islam had not brought me the peace I thought it would. As much as I tried, I had never been able to keep the rules of Islam perfectly, and in Islam there is never any guarantee of salvation. One can work his entire life as a “servant” of Allah, and still find at judgment that he has not lived a life worthy of paradise. I began to remember the God of Love that I had been told about as a child, and I knew both could not be true. Either God loved us so much He wanted to save us, or he sat waiting condemn us for the slightest offense… I didn’t know which was the right way. I decided that there was no way I would ever know the right way. After all, with a limited human understanding, who can understand God?
Kathy comes home
At that point, I had a chance to return to my home state, though not my home town. I still considered myself nominally muslim, but I told myself, I was just not practicing my religion. I stopped wearing the hijab, and began to eat meat from the grocery, though I still drew the line at pork. I had questions that nobody had been able to answer, and had, over time, discovered that many of the things muslims had told me about Christianity were simply not true, but still I wasn’t sure. After a while, I decided that I would just believe in God and that would be enough. After all, I had decided, any time man gets involved in the process, there’s going to be trouble, and who can speak for God except God Himself? And God wasn’t talking to me. I doubted He even knew me, honestly.
Over the next couple years, I moved back to my home state, met and married the man that is now my husband, and began to live a “normal” life. As much as can be considered normal when one is apart from God. I still did not know what was the right path, but I was tired of searching. My husband wasn’t a religious person, and my religion, or lack of it, wasn’t an issue for him. From time to time, we’d attend a church service with his mom and dad, but I only did so out of respect for them. But God can use any small opportunity to reach you if you are even a small bit open to Him.
About a year after we moved back, my father suddenly got sick and died. God had brought me back home, I thought, but for what? Now I had a house and land, but the most important person to me – the only one of my two parents I had left – was gone. It was my mother’s death, I would later realize, that had knocked me so far off track to a life of destruction, and it would be my father’s death, ultimately, that would bring me back home – completely back home.
I cried out to God. I wasn’t even sure who He was anymore. I remember praying, “God, I have NO idea what is the right path. I have thought I have known over and over in my life, and have brought myself into destruction, unhappiness, abuse, loneliness, and nothing I ever did seemed to be enough to make me happy. I don’t know what is the right path, God, but I do know that YOU know. Show me, God, what is the path YOU have chosen for people to follow. Show me and PROVE it to me.”
When God causes a regeneration of the human soul, the Bible says we become born again. We become aware of our sin and His Holiness. The Journey through High school, Islam and mundane meetings with people served a purpose but what she describes next is best is best read first hand:
The man with the harley
One day, my neighbor called me out of the blue. She told me that the plums on her plum tree were ready to pick, but she didn’t have time to deal with them. She asked if I’d like to have them. I answered that I would love to go pick them. She said she would not be home, but I was welcome to them, and so I went across the street with my bucket and began picking her plums. At that point a man drove up on a motorcycle looking for my neighbor – I told him they weren’t home, but she’d given me permission to pick her plums. I didn’t want him to think I was stealing. We talked for a while, and I realized who he was. He was the preacher from a little church down the road. Now he didn’t look like a preacher, mind you – riding a Harley and wearing leather, but that’s what he was. I thought it was interesting, and I probably could relate to a motorcycle riding preacher, I thought to myself. He was also the older brother of a guy I had gone to high school with, so I felt comfortable talking to him for some time before he left to go down the road.
When my grandfather had been alive, he had begun attending a little country church just a couple miles down the road from our house. It turned out that this was indeed the church that the motorcycle riding preacher preached at. I figured it was as good a place as any to start, and so my husband would attend services from time to time there. Hearing the word each week made me more curious and I began to ask questions of people in the church. I cannot tell you what happened after that, except to say that the Lord put into me a hunger for His Word. I began to read voraciously everything I could get my hands on. Church on Sunday wasn’t enough for me. I was fed then, but I needed more. I was beginning to see that the Bible, from beginning to end, was ONE story – the story of Christ. I found Him in Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus….. everywhere I looked. I never would have believed it before, but He really WAS on every page.
I had asked God to prove to me that the Bible was His word, and Christianity was the right path, and He was doing it. One Sunday evening I stood outside the church talking with a young man who attended there, and the preacher. I couldn’t explain it to them but I knew something about me was changing. I openly cried and didn’t know why. I know now that the Holy Spirit was convicting me, and my life would never be the same. I asked them to pray for me to have wisdom, and I prayed the same for myself, because I remembered reading in James 1:5 that if anyone lacks wisdom and prays for it, that God WILL grant it to him. And I counted on that promise.
Finally: It has been a journey since that day, but I have been granted that which I prayed for. God has opened doors to me to not only show me the Truth of the message of Christ, but to PROVE to me beyond a shadow of a doubt that He is who He says He is. My husband and I were baptized together on the same day, June 25, 2006. I was still an infant in the faith at that point, and I have grown so much by the leading of the Holy Spirit and the guidance of God. I am now a teacher of a girls’ Sunday school class, and a youth group leader. We hope and work toward instilling in our young people – at that same little country church where my grandpa attended – a full and complete knowledge of who Christ is, God’s plan of redemption since the fall of man, His plan to bring us back into fellowship with Him, how that was accomplished, and what it means to be in a covenant relationship with God – till death do us part. Except the wonderful part is that, in this particular covenant, even death will never part us. I know I will someday see His face, and THAT is worth everything I have lived through. [Adapted with permission from Kathy’s Testimony]