Omar and Layla* along with their children were forced to flee their home country in 2012. For four years they lived elsewhere in the Middle East until they were sponsored to come to Canada as refugees by an evangelical church in Calgary. They arrived in Canada in February 2016.
Omar Experiences A Difference
Omar, though a Muslim, wasn’t very religious. Questioning Islam was something he never really considered. But when he and his family were forced to flee their home and take refuge in another country, questions began to arise in his mind.
As refugees, their family lived in an area that included people who were culturally Catholic. Omar noticed that whenever he worked for Muslims they continually tried to deceive him and shortchange him for his work. But whenever he worked for people who professed to be Christians, they treated him fairly and honestly. He began to appreciate them, even though he considered them “idol-worshippers.” This difference in treatment is what jump-started his doubts regarding Islam.
*Names have been changed
Layla Begins to Question
Layla’s questioning of Islam actually started many years earlier, but it wasn’t until Omar began to doubt that she was given much greater freedom to ask questions and express her doubts also. It wasn’t long before they found that they were in this together, asking questions and looking for answers. They were both searching, but did not find the answers until arriving in Canada and clearly heard the gospel for the first time.
“Omar and I have had a lot of conversations in the past about why it is that we can’t ask questions about Islam” said Layla, sharing her testimony prior to being baptized along with her husband. “Every time I wanted to understand something and I wanted to ask a question, I was faced with a kind of wall. I was fourteen years old, and I went to the mosque and asked [the Imam], ‘Why is it that a woman has to wear the veil–the hijab?’ He didn’t really answer me. Actually, he kicked me out. Where we lived, and within Islam, it felt like we had this veil on our eyes.”
The Church Reaches Out
When Omar and Layla arrived in Canada, the church in Calgary invited Fayez and Vivian Narooz, missionaries with InterAct, to help with translation and to get them acclimated to life in Canada. Their respect for the Christians at the evangelical Church in Calgary grew rapidly as they saw that these believers didn’t worship idols and that they lived out the hope they professed.
“There is no hope in Islam,” shared Omar in his testimony. “It doesn’t matter what you do or how you do it, there is no hope–even if you do many good deeds–nothing to look forward to and there is no guarantee for after you die. The one thing that people will always tell you is that you mustn’t question that. There is no answer for it, and only God knows. But when I sat with Christian believers and asked them, “Is there hope?” I was told, “Yes, there is hope in Christ, and there is hope in eternity.”
Fayez and Vivian soon introduced the family to the community of believers at the True Love Arabic Church, where Fayez is the pastor. Omar, Layla and their children were loved deeply by these believers, and the family soon began attending church regularly. They all loved the singing and the children loved Sunday school.
Questions Are Answered
Many hours were spent together as Fayez answered question after question, always going to the Bible for answers. They learned about the Trinity, the possibility of redemption and why Jesus had to die.
“When we came here, we knew and we realized that we can ask these questions with such freedom.” said Layla. “Asking questions brought us to Jesus. We could understand the truth of who Christ is, get deeper in the story and know why Jesus came to earth. Muhammad didn’t do what Jesus said. So we could tell the difference.”