I was born a Muslim, and lived according to the faith until I was 14. I never really understood it, though. And when I converted to Christianity I was shunned by my family and the larger Muslim community. This is my story of how one decision changed my life forever.
It took one service to change my life forever
In my last year of primary school, I started drinking and smoking. I had already started dating. I was 13 years old. Although my friends and I partied together on weekends, they never missed church on a Sunday.
One Friday evening I found myself going with them to the youth service. I was amazed by their excitement. I was told that church was boring, and that it was similar to mosque. I didn’t like attending mosque because men and women were always separated. They never worshipped together.
My friends were stoked about being in church, though; jumping and screaming like we were at a rock concert. I wanted to know more, I wanted to experience that same joy and laughter they had. I attended church for the first time on that very Sunday, not knowing my life was about to change forever.
The message that was shared in that morning service spoke to every part of me, and resonated with everything I was going through at the time. I took the step to receive Jesus Christ.
The hurt that comes with being shunned
I tried to hide it from my family for as long as I could. But I knew they would eventually find out. In my community, if you leave Islam and convert to another religion you are cast out. You are ignored by family and friends, and it is highly likely that you will be kicked out of home.
Recently, I attended my uncle’s funeral. I went, not expecting much to happen, or rather knew that I would be isolated. I had already been told that I should rather stay at home. I went regardless. I wanted to pay my respects. I was there, but nobody spoke to me, nobody acknowledged my presence. Nobody consoled me when I cried. My cousins wanted to hug me, I could see it and I could feel it, but they didn’t. I was strong throughout, but when I got home I cried my eyes out, and got into the word immediately. I felt better after that. I was not going to give up on God now, not after everything.
The consequences of converting
I still stay with my parents, but it hasn’t been easy. They don’t agree with my decision, even though they’ve seen that it has brought about a better me. I don’t drink or smoke anymore. I have become a more gentle and meek person. I have learnt to let go of my short temper, but yet they still find fault in me, and concentrate on the things I’m not doing right. All of this because I believe in something they don’t.
My grandmother flat-out disowned me for my decision. Whenever I’m in her presence it’s either she ignores me or begs me to change my mind. Being a devout Muslim, she did what she thought was right and verbally told me that she disowned me. I was a “murtadd” (an outcast, an apostate). It’s not only my family that have made this journey tough, and I’m still publicly mocked by many Muslims who were part of my life.
With all the difficulties, I still don’t regret my decision. My life hasn’t been rosier since I converted, but I have finally found a church that is my solace. Nine years later and all the judgement and negativity around my decision has not made me regret my decision one bit.