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You might expect Nisreen to be afraid.

But her bold wods make it clear she isn’t.

“Let the world see that I love the Lord Jesus,” Nisreen says. “He said whoever is ashamed of Me I will be ashamed of him in front of My Father. So why would I be ashamed of Him? He is my refuge and the shelter of my children.”

Why might she be afraid? Simple: She is a Christian who converted from Islam. She has lived through nearly 10 years of brutal war. And she lives in Syria.

And yet, Nisreen is one of those people who seems to mirror Jesus in her face. She has a radiant face and an unforgettable smile, filled with the love of Jesus—a love that has made her bold and unafraid, even as she lives her life in such a difficult context. Nisreen is in her 40s, married and mother to three girls and one boy. As she is living in a Muslim environment in the city Qamishli in northern Syria, she still dresses like a Muslim woman. Her hair is covered with a green veil and she’s dressed in a long green dress.

A love for an unknown Savior

Although she is from a Muslim background, “I didn’t have a strong belief in my religion,” she says. She was always attracted by what she saw of the life of Christians.

“The love of Christ was planted in me since I was little,” she says. “I used to see how Christians’ behavior is better than ours. I’ve always liked Christians and I used to say to my parents ‘there is something connecting me and Christians.’”

Even as a schoolgirl, her lack of interest in Islam was clear. “At school, when we had to memorize verses from the Quran, I didn’t want to do that.”

As with so many young girls in the Middle East, she married young, at 15. But she never hid her love for Christians and for the church. “I asked my husband to take me to the church,” she says. “I felt real comfort in a church. When my children got sick, I went to the church and prayed for them, they would get healed. I had faith in that.”

It’s difficult to overstate how odd this is for many families in Syria. In this part of the world, there is a daily risk for people who leave Islam for Jesus—pressure from family, community and general society can make it extremely difficult and even dangerous for converts. Additionally, Qamishli is near the area ISIS controlled in the mid 2010s. Even though ISIS never captured the city, Christians were targeted and attacked. Nisreen’s interest in Christianity from a young age can only be the work of the Holy Spirit in her life—and in the lives of the Christians around her.

Support Christians like Nisreen!

Believers like Nisreen are all over the world—risking rejection and oppression each day, simply because they choose to follow Jesus. And yet, Nisreen was able to find help and spiritual training through ministry supported by Open Doors! When you give today, you’ll support ministries like that, all over the world. Will you help?

Like many Syrians over the last nine years of war, Nisreen’s family found themselves in need of food and other basics. She heard about the food distribution of the Alliance Church in Qamishli and went there for help. The church is an Open Doors partner.

The first time she visited was a big disappointment. “They couldn’t handle more families,” Nisreen says. “But they said I should come back. I went back after 12 days. I was in desperate need at that moment; my children had nothing to eat. I always used to cry out to the Lord and say: ‘Lord, you are my children’s refuge.’” But again, when she returned to the church, Abu Farid*, a volunteer of the church said they couldn’t put new names on their distribution list.

“I was very tired, I was emotionally exhausted, I was crying and was very skinny,” she remembers. “I asked him for a cup of water and if I could sit down for a while. He asked, ‘it’s Ramadan, aren’t you fasting?’ I said, ‘I am not fasting, this is not my belief.’ Abu Farid asked, ‘Don’t you believe in God?’ I said: ‘I have faith in God and I feel that He is always with me, but not in the way Islam teaches.’”

“Abu Farid talked to me about Jesus for an hour and a half. At the end I asked: ‘You talked about Jesus and you said that He came for all people; is it possible that I could become a Christian?’ He replied ‘of course; Christ came for the whole world!’”

Nisreen accepted Jesus that day, and returned home, with double joy: “I met Jesus and I got a food package.”

Nisreen with her son, Bashar.

Food…and the hope of Christ

Returning home, she happily shared what had happened. “I told my husband with much joy how the Lord used Abu Farid,” she says. “For two days I talked how the Lord did this miracle.”

She was later invited to church at the Alliance church where she’d gotten food. “When I sat in that church service, I cried so much” she says, eyes sparkling. “I was there with my daughter. On the way [there], in the street I already felt such a great joy. Thank You Jesus, for leading me here.”

She was touched by the whole sermon, but Pastor George’s sermon made her cry. “I don’t remember what Bible verses he spoke about,” she says. “But it was [from] the Gospel of John; later, I read it at home again.”

To grow in her newfound faith, Nisreen joined the church’s discipleship program. She already has finished three levels of the training. Her three daughters and her son also became Christians and are faithful church attendees with their mother. Her husband still isn’t a follower of Jesus “but seems on his way,” she says. “I always read the Bible, Old and New Testament and I often watch Christian television. I hope that one day I will give discipleship training to other people.”

Her conversion is exceptionally well accepted by her family. “My brother, who lives in Germany, wrote to my parents: ‘You should rejoice, Nisreen is now on the right path,’” Nisreen says. “My father once said: ‘Since [Nisreen] was little, [she] loves Jesus; she always searched for God.’”

Only her mother-in-law isn’t happy with her being a Christian. “She says I should not go to church,” Nisreen says. “She discusses with me, we’re always fighting about it: ‘You’re leading your children away from the right path.’ My son Bashar always shares with her about Christ.”

Being a Christian has made a huge difference in Nisreen’s life. “It is indescribable, millions of things have happened,” she says. “Faith gives me strength. I am not afraid of life anymore. Years ago, I even tried to commit suicide. The most important for me now is Jesus in my life. I see also the difference it makes in Bashar’s, my son’s, life. He was so nervous in the past. The Bible helped him to become calmer. Every time he gets upset, he opens the Bible and calms down.”

Abu Farid is encouraged seeing Nisreen in church. “It gives me joy,” he says. “I can see the fruit of the Spirit when I see her. In these hard times of persecution, we see that a lot of people come to the church and we can share the gospel with them.”

*Names changed for security reasons

PRAY WITH NISREEN

  • Please pray for the nation of Syria.
  • Pray for salvation for everyone. Pray that God will open the eyes of the people, that they might accept Jesus.
  • Pray for God’s protection for believers like Nisreen.
  • Pray also for Nisreen and her son, Bashan that they continue to grow in their faith.
SUPPORT CHRISTIANS LIKE NISREEN!

Believers like Nisreen are all over the world—risking rejection and oppression each day, simply because they choose to follow Jesus. And yet, Nisreen was able to find help and spiritual training through ministry supported by Open Doors! When you give today, you’ll support ministries like that, all over the world. Will you help?