Hiding in the Light (review)

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Hiding in the Light: Why I Risked Everything to Leave Islam and Follow JesusHiding in the Light: Why I Risked Everything to Leave Islam and Follow Jesus by Rifqa Bary

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A face marred by an accident at six, a strict Muslim upbringing, and cruel treatment by her parents fed a deep longing within Rifqa Bary for love and acceptance. It was her seventh grade school friend Angela who answered her questions about Jesus and invited her to church that led to her conversion—the most profound experience in her life to that point.

Though life as a secret Christian in a strict Muslim home in Ohio was anything but easy, it was after her baptism that things got dangerous. Fearing for her life and sanity, she finally fled her home in July of 2009, one month shy of her 17th birthday and still a minor for another year.

Hiding in the Light, Rifqa’s story told in first person, is a riveting read from start to finish. She is eventually on the run not only from her parents and their mosque but also from U.S. child welfare officials who, she fears, will send her back home unless they believe her life is actually in danger.

What impressed me about this memoir is Rifqa’s love and loyalty to Jesus and the price she was willing to pay to be identified as one of His. In her most trying moments she feels His tangible presence. Here, for example, is her account of what happened one day when she was being held in a juvenile detention center in Florida:

“ … while sitting alone again in my cell, I sensed what had become for me an almost absolute assurance of His presence: a gentle whisper that resonated in my spirit … Will you sing to Me, Rifqa?

Sing to You? Here? Are You crazy?… Okay God. Give me a song and I’ll sing it.

I softly rested the back of my head against the wall, exhaled a cleansing sigh, swallowed my last remnant of hindered self-conscious disobedience and began singing the opening lines to Matt Redman’s ‘The Heart of Worship’ “ Kindle Location 2231.

This book gave me a new appreciation for my Christian upbringing. It also opened my eyes to God’s tender care of His own in the way He provided help in the nick of time for Rifqa in many tense situations. A compelling read, I think Hiding in the Light would be a valuable resource for all who love and work with Muslims.

I received Hiding In The Light as a gift from the publisher for the purpose of writing a review.

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Ex-Muslim (review)

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Ex-Muslim: How One Daring Prayer to Jesus Changed a Life ForeverEx-Muslim: How One Daring Prayer to Jesus Changed a Life Forever by Naeem Fazal

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ex-Muslim: How One Daring Prayer to Jesus Changed a Life Forever is the memoir of Naeem Fazal (with co-writer Kitti Murray). In it Fazal tells the story of how he, an ethnic Pakistani from Kuwait, came to America as a devout Muslim intent on meeting beautiful blondes. Then one day, during a frightening encounter with evil, he met Jesus. Ex-Muslim also tells how his siblings converted to Christianity, how he met and wooed his wife Ashley, and how they planted Mosaic Church in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Fazal tells his story in first person. The writing style is casual. It’s almost as if he’s sitting across the table talking to you using everyday lingo and putting in asides. The sense of ego that comes across in places did irritate me a bit, though he does his share of admitting to and apologizing for episodes of immaturity and a tendency toward cockiness, especially in evidence during his younger days.

Besides telling his story he also explores, in some of the more lecture-type parts of the book, principles of how God works in general. Fazal finds lessons in the incidents of his own life and uses them as springboards to instruct others. His experience of coming to the States from the Middle East also gives us a refreshing look at western culture through an outsider’s eyes. These things work together to make for interesting and relatable teaching.

I found much to like and take away from this book. Describing his encounter with Jesus, Fazal writes:

“Jesus’ first words to me were not, ‘Whew! You’re safe now with me.’ No, he said, ‘I am Jesus Christ, your Lord. Your life is not your own’ ” Kindle Location 859.

When speaking of ministry to people of other cultures and faiths, especially Muslims, He says:

“Incarnational living, living among people and relating to them intimately, is of far more value than anything an evangelism or apologetics course can teach us. I’m not suggesting we don’t learn to understand our Muslim neighbors and friends and coworkers, but I am saying that it is our relationships that matter most. If people don’t see the teachings of Jesus lived out in us, they won’t want to listen to a word we have to say about him” K. L. 1814.

After seeing his coffee shop barista at Target and not recognizing her because she was out of context, he sensed Jesus asking him:

“Naeem, do you know what I look like out of context? You recognize me in the places you create for me, like worship services and Christian conferences but do you see me anywhere else?” KL 2503.

I would recommend Ex-Muslim to anyone who enjoys memoirs, especially stories of God at work in people’s lives. As well, it would be a valuable resource to those reaching out to Muslims with the gospel, to church planters, and to young people in or considering going into ministry.

I received Ex-Muslim from the publisher, Thomas Nelson, as a gift for the purpose of writing a review.

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