Kalaam Sees God Smile

“My father was a harsh man,” Kalaam told us at a recent conference in Central Asia. “Everyone in our community saw him as a leader and a devout Muslim, but at home he yelled at me a lot.”

Kalaam (not his real name) remembers approaching his father and asking him, “Do you understand what you read in the Koran?”

His father raised his hand to hit him. “Don’t ask those questions!” he said. “Your brothers never asked those questions.”

Kalaam’s view of God was similar. “I knew about a God of holiness, but he was harsh and judgmental. I knew nothing about God’s love.”

As a boy, Kalaam had a dream and he saw God smiling down on him from a crescent moon. The image was so clear and so surprising.

As he grew up, questions continued to flood Kalaam’s mind and he began to secretly search for answers. As a teen, he discovered a radio program that discussed questions of faith openly. But the radio reception was poor and he could only listen when his family wasn’t watching him.

Eventually, Kalaam contacted the radio station and sent away for some of the resources that they offered. “I began to read about Jesus and a God of love.”

As a young adult, Kalaam got married and started a family. He succeeded as a businessman in the construction industry and often travelled to Saudi Arabia for work. “While I was away from home, I had more freedom to explore my questions and beliefs. As I read the Bible, I began to trust in the God of the Bible.”

On one occasion when Kalaam returned home to his family, his wife noticed that he was different. Encouraged by the evidence of change in his life, he confessed to her that he had become a follower of Jesus.

But she was disturbed by the news and immediately told her parents and brothers. “Kalaam is an apostate,” they said. “You must divorce him!”

“I was crushed,” Kalaam remembers, “and yet somehow this rejection only strengthened his faith in Jesus.” Because of the divorce, he was unable to return to his work in Saudi Arabia and had to remain at home to provide for his children. However, his ex-wife and her family spread the news of his conversion throughout the community, which marred his reputation and destroyed any chance for him to work with local construction clients.

Kalaam’s situation went from bad to worse when he was framed for murder and sent to prison. He suffered alone in jail for three-and-a-half years before he was exonerated. Throughout his imprisonment, God gave Kalaam grace and his faith remained strong. After his release, Kalaam was reunited with his children and, a short time later, was remarried. His wife was aware of Kalaam’s faith in Jesus, but she was not yet a believer. They began to read the Bible together and Kalaam prayed for her salvation. After two years, she embraced her husband’s faith and was baptized.

After years of rejection and testing, Kalaam is enjoying new freedom and joy in serving God. Together with his wife and their eight children, they now host a church of about twenty people in their home.

“In Islam, we are taught that the path of life is like a knife’s edge,” Kalaam recalls. “We live in fear of doing the wrong thing. But as a follower of Jesus, I only live to please my heavenly Father, and I see him smiling down on me.”

By Randy Friesen