By Melissa Browning
As an electrical engineer in Iraq, Moussa had it all. With a successful career working in the public and private sector, Moussa was at the top of his profession. He was a successful, educated man with a family whom he loved.
Then war broke out in Iraq.
Moussa and his family fled Iraq and, when he returned, things had drastically changed. The war had ended, but the lasting effects it had left on the country were painfully apparent. Moussa lived in Iraq for two years before he started to receive death threats. He felt unsafe and decided it was best to take his family and leave. Again, Moussa was forced to flee the country that he grew up in.
“Due to adverse security matters, we had to leave Iraq and flee to Belgium,” Moussa explained. “God made our path easier. However, it cost us very much. I sold everything I had in Iraq to reach Belgium.”
When Moussa and his family arrived in Antwerp, Belgium, they were granted refugee status due to the risk of political violence. Although happy to be safe from the forces that sought to harm them in Iraq, there were massive adjustments they had to make. Among them were the weather and the language barrier. There were also challenges within the family—specifically religious ones. And that is how Moussa and his family connected with Cooperative Baptist Fellowship field personnel Janée Angel.
“Moussa arrived at our first church plant in Antwerp several years ago, coming because of his wife,” Angel said. “She had been having dreams about Jesus, and she wanted to understand those dreams.”
As a lifelong practicing Muslim, Moussa was opposed to the idea of converting to Christianity. His entire family was Muslim; he had studied Islam all throughout school; and he knew nothing else but the Muslim world. Although he was apprehensive to consider learning about Christianity, there was a bit of curiosity in his mind. It also wasn’t the first time he had been curious about other religions; but it was the first time that he could actually do something about it.
“When I was in Iraq, I had many questions in my mind,” Moussa said. “Whenever I asked anyone about them, they would reply that these questions were unacceptable and, if I kept asking them, I would become a heretic.”
Because of that, Moussa had convinced himself that he should not ask about those questions. But now, given the opportunity to pursue them in a place where he would not be persecuted for it, he decided to try to learn more. At the very least, he wanted to learn what Christianity was all about.
That’s when he went out on a limb and began talking to Hary, Janée’s husband, a pastor and Syrian native. Hary opened Moussa’s mind to the teachings of Christianity, telling him the story of Jesus and what it meant without pressuring or persecuting him.
“In our meeting, Mr. Hary talked about Jesus,” said Moussa. “He also said that he didn’t want me to immediately convert to Christianity. He just wanted me to think about the points he had made.”
For Moussa, those questions became louder and more frequent. But those old questions that he was hearing were nothing compared to the new questions that had begun to surface. What once had been a small ember had erupted into a full-blown fire inside his mind. Moussa wanted to learn more, so he took the Bible that Hary had given him and started to read it. He then used the Internet to compare its text to the Qur’an. For the first time, Moussa finally had the resources to get answers to those questions; but he quickly realized that more questions existed than there were answers.
“At the end, there were no answers,” Moussa said. “I believed that Islam was transferred from one person to another without answers. People block their minds and are stuck in a circle of having questions they are forbidden to ask.”
After a lifetime of practicing the Islamic faith, Moussa had changed his mind. Because of his contemplation and his conversations with Hary, Moussa had decided to follow Jesus. Even though he felt ignorant of Christianity, he felt the presence of God guiding him and answering his questions.
“It was a wonderful thing to watch Moussa blossom in his faith,” Angel said. “His faith was his own. It wasn’t because of us or his wife, although that was the journey that God used to introduce him to Christ.”
Although Moussa’s family back in Iraq was unhappy with his decision, he didn’t care. Even as they began to disassociate with him one-by-one, he felt that Jesus filled every hole that they left behind. He has now lived in Belgium for nine years, regularly attends church, hosts Bible studies, and plays an integral role in the Christian outreach to the Arabic community in Antwerp.
“My experience with Jesus can replace all my relationships,” Moussa said. “The power which God gave us is life. Not just the words we read, but the words we believe in and live by. I experienced true life and faith. I have a true relationship with Jesus.”
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This article appeared in the Winter 2020-21 issue of fellowship! magazine, the quarterly publication of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. Read online here and subscribe for free to fellowship! and CBF’s weekly e-newsletter fellowship! weekly at www.cbf.net/subscribe.
I went on a mission trip to Antwerp in 2004. We left our hotel and made way to the train station and headed to Kapellan Refugee Center every morning for five days. I was part of an orchestra led by Camp Kirkland and Global Missions Project. I was amazed how God used our talents, vocations, expertise, and faith to serve these people…providing means to obtain a molded wheelchair for a child and producing a CD of music written by a Russian military officer and a woman whose country was at war with Russia. On a mission trip, you plant seeds, but you never see the harvest. I was so blessed by this experience.