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Drawn by Love: God’s Plans for a Seeking Sunni

Drawn by Love: God’s Plans for a Seeking Sunni

Danyal’s* family never imagined how deeply he would delve into Islam. Nor could they imagine how God would use that journey to draw Danyal to Himself.

“I started seeking God when I was 15, because I liked a girl who was wearing a hijab (a Muslim head covering for women),” Danyal remembers. “She made me curious to know more about Islam, so I started going to the Sunni mosque and learning to read the Quran.”

Though Danyal’s parents identified as Shia Muslims (a sect distinct from the more widely known Sunni Muslims), the family didn’t go to the mosque and rarely prayed. However, when Danyal’s father found out that Danyal was pursuing Sunni Islam, he was furious. He threw away all of Danyal’s books about Islam, including his Quran, and harshly berated both Danyal and his mother during the argument that followed. “I would rather you be a Christian or even a Jew rather than a Sunni [Muslim]!” yelled his dad. He left the home, only to come back with an axe and threaten them, before kicking Danyal out of the house.

“I was angry at my dad for abusing my mom verbally and, at other times, physically,” Danyal says. “But I also felt sad and a deep sense of pity for him.”

Two weeks later, Danyal left his hometown to attend university. “My goal was to do my best to find the truth and to find myself, the reason for my existence and the purpose of life in an impartial way,” Danyal recollects.

At the age of 19, he joined an Islamic society where he took seminary classes about interpreting the Quran. He recalls spending 10 days in the mosque 24/7. “But the more good I tried to do, the further I felt from God,” Danyal explains.

“I would read the Bible for the sake of arguing against Christian workers,” he admits. But instead of helping him find a goal in life, Danyal’s quest into Islam led him to hopelessness, to the point that he considered suicide.

Amid Danyal’s despair, God sent a couple of Christian workers into Danyal’s neighborhood. They made him feel at home, serving him tea and showing the love of Christ to him through practical means. Their kindness and hospitality opened his heart to learn what they believed, and he asked to study the Bible with them. Little did he know then the story God was unfolding in his life.

Drawn By Love

Danyal remembers hearing 1 Corinthians 13:13, comparing faith, hope and love. “Islam says that faith is the greatest,” Danyal comments, “but in the pages of the Quran I mostly encountered torment and fear.” Hearing that the New Testament puts love at the summit, Danyal wanted to read more about what the Bible had to say.

His interest came with a cost: As it grew, his friends noticed and backed away. Nevertheless, as he continued to study, he saw God’s active involvement in the Old Testament, and it gave him a desire to have a similar relationship with God. Like most Muslims, he had believed that the Bible had been changed, but now it seemed to point to the solution for his soul’s hunger.

For a couple years, Danyal continued practicing Islam while also studying the Bible. “I didn't give up; I kept reading and seeking,” he says. As he did, God revealed His love through His people. “I [had] never seen that kind of love before,” Danyal recalls. “I know my family loves me, but when I’d do something bad, they would get mad fast and punish me.”

He describes how it was Jesus’ unconditional love that drew him in at last: “He loved me; even though I denied Him, even though I was hostile to Him, He loved me. What kind of love was this? … Love was Jesus.”

On a Saturday evening in August 2018, Danyal became a believer through reading Ephesians 2:8: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God." It was then that he found the forgiveness of God, something all of his Islamic practice and study had not granted him.

Danyal ran to his Christian neighbors’ house, eager to tell of his newfound salvation. His new brother urged Danyal to pray directly to Jesus, and for the first time he did so—weeping tears of repentance and joy.

But not everyone was excited. When Danyal became a Christian, his friends completely disowned him. Other people even questioned his ethnic identity, saying he couldn’t be their countryman and not believe in Islam. “I wondered why God was not softening the hearts of people around me,” adds Danyal.

Amid the pressure, Danyal considered escaping to South Korea, where he would be able to practice his faith and minister freely. He even had tickets to go, but then his flight was cancelled. “God used the story of Jonah to begin changing my heart,” Danyal admits. Then COVID-19 hit. Amid the lockdowns, God had a plan in motion to continue rekindling Danyal’s love for his own people.

Sharing Hope in His Homeland

A Christar worker named Allison had arrived in Danyal’s country around the time he became a follower of Jesus. They met three months later, and when God brought the two of them to live in the same neighborhood, they started seeing more of each other. They eventually started dating and married in a small ceremony during COVID-19.

It was his relationship with Allison that helped Danyal first introduce his faith in Christ to his family with the exception of his father, who tragically died in an accident two weeks after Danyal and Allison’s wedding. Though Danyal’s mom is not yet a believer, she overflowed with pride as she witnessed her son preach at church. Danyal continues to share the good news with her and pray that God will draw her with His love, just He brought Danyal into His family.

For a time following the wedding, Danyal worked as a tutor and translator. But the money he earned was not consistent, and he did not want to live off of Allison’s support. Also, his schedule with work made it difficult for him to find time to pursue what he was truly passionate about: discipling and mentoring others.

That’s when he started to consider becoming a full-time Christar worker as he saw how serving in this way, as Allison did, would give him more time for ministry. In early 2024, he and Allison traveled to the U.S. so he could take a step of faith: attending training programs for new Christar workers. He was among the 18 officially welcomed into Christar at the end of January.

The couple hopes to soon travel back to Danyal’s home country, where they will continue their work of spreading the good news they’ve been blessed to receive. As a former Muslim, Danyal celebrates the understanding he has of the Islamic perspective and the ways that insight helps him share the gospel with others from similar backgrounds. “God’s plan sometimes seems to be taking longer,” he admits, reflecting on the years he practiced Islam, “but He teaches things along the way.”

Participate by Praying

  • Ask God to continue enabling Danyal and Allison to shine the light of truth and life amid the spiritual darkness of his home country.
  • Pray He would use this couple to draw Danyal’s family and many others to faith in Christ.
  • Lift up the churches that partner with Danyal and Allison, both in the U.S. and in Danyal’s home country, asking that the couple would be an encouragement and inspiration to them as they follow God’s leading.

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