This was Muslim woman *Safa’s question to me when I first shared the gospel with her just over a year ago…
On Friday I had the great honour and privilege of baptizing Safa*- our first adult convert to be baptized in our Mission.
With her permission I will share with you a little of Safa’s story…
Safa moved to Australia with her family when she was six years old. She was brought up a Muslim in a Muslim family. She remembers her father regularly went to mosque to make his prayers.
As time went on her family life broke down and violence became a part of it. As Safa grew up she turned away from her childhood faith and entered into an albeit God-less existence, although she stilled called herself a Muslim. Over the course of the years a pre-arranged marriage which didn’t work out, another violently abusive relationship and then the arrival of a baby boy had caused Safa to withdraw from much of life.
As she struggled to bring up her son as a single mother, she remembers spending most of her days simply staring out the window. Eventually she was diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and turned to alcohol to alleviate some of the pain of her past.
Most days at midday she would begin to drink and would keep going right till 2 or 3am.
How I became a part of Safa’s life is through the food pantry. We have run this ministry from our garage for five years now. Another single mother whom we had helped with food parcels told me she knew someone who needed help – Safa. So one day I took food around to Safa. As well as the food, I popped into the bag a Bible and a Christian tract. This continued for a few weeks until one day Safa told me she had been reading the Bible but didn’t understand what she was reading. She invited me in for a coffee and to explain it to her.
I shared the basic gospel of Jesus Christ with her. This was when she had said to me:
“Belinda, why hasn’t anyone told me before that Jesus rose from the dead?”
From six years old she had lived in this “Christian” country – and it was not until she was in her forties that she heard the gospel. How terribly sad.
Then she said to me:
“But Belinda- If Jesus rose from the dead that means God is real!”
Her simple faith stunned me. Never before had I come across this beautiful child-like faith. I admit I almost did not know how to react to it. Antagonism, skepticism – these reactions were all familiar to me, but this was something new.
As I left her house that day I praised the Lord. I praised Him for His mercy and lovingkindess, I praised Him that He had sent me to Safa. I praised Him for her childlike faith and beauty.
Week by week we began meeting and reading the Bible together. Safa was full of questions. She couldn’t get enough of this incredible Book. New meaning was coming into her life and suddenly she began seeing that God was real.
“Belinda, I have never before noticed how beautiful those flowers are! It is like I am seeing them for the first time!” Safa said this sort of statement to me regularly as God’s beautiful creation unfolded before her for the first time.
Safa even began dreaming. She dreamt she was dropping down a big hole on her way to hell when suddenly she was saved. Some nights Safa would wake herself up talking aloud to Jesus. She said His presence was so very close to her.
All of this was so encouraging to me and I rejoiced in the Lord. However one thing was bothering me. I had smelled alcohol on Safa on a number of occasions. I didn’t know anything much about her or her past at this point, but I knew the smell of alcohol and I knew what it meant.
At that time I had just come out of a very difficult situation with another alcoholic that we had been ministering to. He had never confessed his alcoholism to us but it was obvious by the copious amounts of drink he consumed whenever we saw him. He had hurt us incredibly by lying to us, abusing us and then ultimately rejecting us as we tried to reach Him with God’s love. That is another story, but now being confronted with another person enslaved to alcohol was potentially too much for me to bear in my recent hurt. I spoke to God about this regularly. I didn’t know what He was going to do about it but I knew that I couldn’t bear being lied to again.
And then He did it.
One night I dropped food into Safa. She met me on her front porch. She was ready to accept Christ as her Lord and Saviour and to give Him her life. Suddenly the floodgates were opened and she confessed. She confessed her sins to me, she confessed her alcoholism and the hold it had on her. She confessed she was powerless against it. I knew then that this situation was different from the last. That God was working in her and that He had had her confess in absolute childlike honesty everything to me.
This was the beginning of Safa being set free.
There on her front porch we prayed together. She gave her life to Christ and I broke the power of the demon of alcohol over her in the Name of Jesus.
Safa says that was the night that everything changed. Even though she still drank, the alcohol lost its grip on her there and then.
She began reducing her intake. Her doctors became concerned. They told her she was reducing it too fast and that she would go into cardiac arrest.
She said “But if I don’t need it why should I drink it?”
They encouraged her to drink more. They said her body needs it. They were scared of what would happen.
When she refused, they helplessly told her to ring the Drug and Alcohol helpline, which she did.
After explaining to the man at the Drug and Alcohol line her situation he told her to continue with what she was doing. he was amazed by how well she was doing. When he asked her the cause of this sudden change in her life she told him:
“I have gotten to know Jesus.” She ended up witnessing to him on the phone. He asked if he could share her story with the other drug and alcohol counsellors he worked with….
Safa asked me one day how she should now answer on official documents as to her religion – should she write “Muslim” or “Christian”?
I answered by asking her “Well, Safa, who do you follow – Muhammed or Jesus?”
“Jesus!” She exclaimed, “I follow Jesus. I am a Christian!”
And so Safa was baptized on Friday in front of the ladies from our women’s prayer group.
Safa has found a Man she can trust. A Man who will never harm her or abuse her in any way. A Man who gave up His very life for her.
A Man she is totally in love with….. That Man of Galilee.
On Friday Safa obeyed her Lord and was identified with Him in His death, burial and resurrection.
I am absolutely overjoyed that God led me to Safa. I feel so privileged to have been with her every step of the way as she came to also know Jesus, my wonderful Saviour. I feel so privileged to be able to continue to disciple Safa and watch her grow.
I praise God with the angels in heaven that “there is a new name written down in glory”.
Hallelujah to the Lamb of God!
But one thing I can never forget is her question to me:
“Belinda, why hasn’t anyone told me before that Jesus rose from the dead?”
*Name has been changed to protect privacy
“If I had my way, I would declare a moratorium on public preaching of ‘the plan of salvation’ in America for one to two years. Then I would call on everyone who has use of the airwaves and the pulpits to preach the holiness of God, the righteousness of God, and the Law of God until sinners would cry out, ‘What must we do to be saved?” Then I would take them off in a corner and whisper the gospel to them…. Such drastic action is needed because we have a gospel hardened generation of sinners by telling them how to be saved before they have any understanding why they need to be saved.”
Most of the time when I preach with the microphone people have one of four reactions as they walk past:
1. they laugh
2. they roll their eyes
3. they scream out blasphemy or
3. they yell at me to shut the f*#k up
Ha, good times.
(Actually to add another element to the mix is the Black Magician that seemingly only comes out when I am there. In his black clothes, make up and top hat he stands across from where we preach and moves his hands and legs around constantly in snake-like movements, as if he is casting spells on us. If you go close to him you realize that he is mocking us and repeats everything we say. He does that for hours – he doesn’t stop).
So anyway tonight the second time I preached the anointing came down. When the anointing of the Spirit falls everything changes. My preaching changes, it becomes powerful and the words flow easily. Under the anointing I could preach for hours, I don’t want to stop. I feel Jesus there with me SO real. I feel He is pleased with me.
But the BIG difference is that the people’s reactions change. Instead of walking past ridiculing and mocking, they stop walking. I mean they literally stop dead. One man stopped tonight in the middle of climbing the steps up to the station. The police officers stopped dead as they were questioning a drunk and listened. Crowds of people just stop and stare and listen. It’s like they are rooted to the spot.
So I kept on preaching as long as I could. Then when I finished the Holy Spirit told me to go straight to that man who was still stopped mid-way on the steps.
So I did. He saw me coming over to him, but he still couldn’t move. We started talking and he said :
“I was walking past but I had to stop. You captured me.”
That’s the Holy Spirit – hallelujah to the Lamb!
He was under conviction for his sin but as he spoke it was obvious that he was utterly amazed at what was happening.
“I’ve never done this before,” he said his eyes wide in surprise at himself. God bless him.
Anyway I just wanted to share 3 points with you
1. that under the anointing ANYTHING is possible.
2. that God will always honour the preaching of His Word and
3. that if you are seeking God’s presence in greater measure – look no further than the streets of your nearest city.
“For since in the wisdom of God the world by its wisdom did not know God, God was pleased to save those who believe by the foolishness of preaching.” 1 Corinthians 1:21