As a young woman Shirine struggled under oppression common to many in Muslim culture. Learning to sew, she encountered a tutor who demonstrated the love of Christ, and who encouraged her that God would reveal himself. Years later, Jesus appeared in a dream, transforming her life!
Shirine’s story is featured on Women Of God, a TV program produced and funded by Horizons International. Women of God features interviews with Muslim women who share their experiences of persecution and suffering under Islam, and their stories and testimonies of how they have found freedom in Christ. This 13-episode show is aired in Muslim-majority countries through satellite TV, so that these women can share their stories with millions of people who also need Jesus.
Shirine: I knew nothing about Christ. I used to hear a lot of people say bad things about Christians, saying they are blasphemers. When I was 14 years old I wanted to learn a skill. What I wanted to learn was sewing. I went to a small workshop where I learned how to sew using the sewing machine.
Our tutor was a 60-year-old woman, and we used to call her “our teacher.” She was a Christian. I used to love her so much that I got attached to her as a mother, a father…she became everything in my life.
Host: A lot of time passed between this period and the time when you met Jesus. Now let us talk about the phase during which you knew nothing about Jesus or knew just that little about Him. I’d like you to share some details.
Shirine: After she went to heaven when I was 17 years old I was just like any other girl. I got engaged, married, and started a family. I used to hear absolutely nothing about Christ and these related issues, but she was a little light in my heart that nothing could ever dim. For my whole life I loved her, and today I know why I loved her.
Host: How did you view God? How did you pray? Did you pray at all?
Shirine: Many things in our culture, which is the Muslim background, were very difficult to bear, especially for us women. For young men, there are a lot of things available to them, easily. Women were so oppressed, and to this day women are still oppressed in the Muslim cultures. Prayer is an obligation; we’d pray 4 or 5 times a day. We also had the Hijab and the Islamic dress code…everything.
Even if, for example, if a guest came over to our house, like a man who’s not related to us, we had restrictions on how we greeted them, and things like that. We used to perceive God as a crouching monster ready to pounce on us. It was very hard. If we didn’t abide, we would burn in hell.
Host: Back then, when you were close to this woman, what was the thing she told you about Christ that you remember the most? And what interested you most about her?
Shirine: Honestly, the thing I remember the most about this person is how frequently she said “Jesus.” It was the first time I heard the name Jesus. “Who is this Jesus?” Also, she was best known in the entire area where I lived for her love. So now I know her secret: she always gave the love of Jesus that was in her heart to people.
She told us about Him, but since I was a kid she never forced things. She knew that my situation was difficult, and so my parents wouldn’t say “she’s just a child, and she’s teaching her”. She’d always tell me, “God will show himself to you.” And yes, after 15 years her words came true.
Host: I want to go back to what you were telling me about this woman. You said that the thing that drew you the most was her behavior, deeds, and love. She was special to you.
But during those 14 years which we spoke about things were stagnant. Nothing happened. Now I’d like you to talk about the phase following these 14 years. What happened with you?
Shirine: After those 14 years, I had a difficult time in Syria because the situation was very hard. I was just like any person who left Syria. My friend came over and as she was talking to me I noticed something extraordinary in her.
So she told me, “You’re exhausted, it’s showing on your face. The only option you have is to go to church and pray. Pray to Jesus and He would solve all of your problems and you’d get healed.”
When she told me that, I remembered 14 years ago as if my wound was reopened. And straightaway, without any need to argue with her, I felt and said, “Lord, finally, You came. I want You.”
Okay, then we went to church for the first time. I was very shy. I kept hiding myself behind my friend, but she’d tell me, “Don’t be afraid. I’m coming because I believe in Jesus’ plan for my life, but you and I alike are from a Muslim background.”
I was very nervous the first time. The second time I went with her too. Then I started going alone. I would come home happy and they’d envy me “Why do you smile and we don’t?” I’d answer, “Go to the place that I go to and enjoy your time too.”
They all objected, and the first was my husband. He restricted me from going to church for a while. I cannot lie before God, I don’t know exactly for how long, but it was a while.
Then, one Sunday morning I woke up and it was 9:30 am. It was prayer time in church. So I prayed, “Lord Jesus, I wholeheartedly came to Your church for a few months and You can see my situation. I am very tired and I strongly and deeply desire to go today and participate in prayer and find rest.”
Then, suddenly, and this truly was a huge surprise to me, it was really unbelievable, my husband unexpectedly told me, “Go get dressed we’re going to church. You and I.” It was such a shock when he said “You and I.” So he went to church, and when I’d be feeling tired he’d still go.
Shirine: He’d say, “You rest and I’ll go”.
Host: Now I want to ask you, after going to church the first 3 times, can you define what encouraged you to commit to church more? At first, did you just enjoy the ambiance? Or was there something else too?
Shirine: Honestly, I experienced miracles. That was the most important thing, and of course, I was finding inner rest and seeing change in my circumstances, in my life, financially, morally… in everything. My household became blessed.
When I went to church, as soon as I received the Lord in faith and truth I told Him, “Lord, today I am going home. I want to sleep and I want to see You if You truly are the Living God.”
So I sought Him with all my heart and suddenly Jesus appeared to me in a dream. It’s hard to describe Him. Jesus is really indescribable with His great light around Him.
Believe me, if I tell you that He was wearing all white and I speak of Him now as if I can see Him before me. I couldn’t see His face due to the amount of light. I saw His hand stretched out to me and He said, “Come, my child. You are my daughter. Don’t be afraid. Be with me”.