Maizah* is a courageous Christian from Libya, whose search for God began when she was very young.
When she was eight years old, she asked her mother, "Where is God? What does He look like?"
"It’s not good to ask this," her mother replied. "God has no form."
‘THE WAY, THE TRUTH AND THE LIFE’
Years later, Maizah had a profound spiritual experience – one she couldn’t explain away.
She was lying in bed, alone in her room, overwhelmed with personal problems. "I felt someone touch my feet," she said.
"The room had been dark, but all of a sudden there was a man shining like light. He didn’t look unreal, but I felt I couldn’t touch him. He kept standing next to me. I felt happiness in my heart just because of his presence. ‘I am the Way, the Truth and the Life,’ he said. Then he was gone."
This was only two weeks before the civil war started in Libya. When the bombs started falling close to their home, Maizah’s family decided to flee to Egypt.
‘A CANDLE FOR LIBYA’
While in Egypt, Maizah came into contact with a Christian neighbour. The woman invited her over. Maizah’s relatives warned her against it because of the woman’s religion.
"That made me really want to know more. This woman was really honest with me. I asked her to tell me about Jesus. Her words spoke directly to my heart. I believed her, I felt it was true. I asked her to show me a Bible - it was the first time I saw one. I was scared of it."
Maizah began to visit her Christian neighbour daily. "One day, I told her about the man I saw in my bedroom. She told me it was Jesus, and she showed me a Bible verse in which He said, ‘I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.’"
As time went by, Maizah felt she wanted to profess her new faith in Jesus. "The neighbour blessed me and said, ‘You will be a candle for Libya; shine for the people of Libya.’"
During her next visit to Egypt, she was baptised. With help from her Egyptian friend, she got in touch with an Egyptian Christian family in Libya.
Even before the recent sway of Islamic extremist insurgency in the country, attending a church in Libya has always been impossible for Libyans. The official churches are only allowed for foreign Christians.
"We met for two years in secret," remembered Maizah. But then, some of the secret Christians she met with were arrested. A priest brought her into contact with another Christian. Maizah was warned: "The police were searching for you when they arrested your friends; they found notes with your name." She fled to Egypt again.
A SAFE HOUSE
But Maizah’s birth family were looking for her.
"One day, I called my mother on the phone. My sister answered. She said my mother was not well, that she was paralysed. I went home because I wanted to be with her.
"At the airport, my family was waiting for me as if nothing happened. When I entered my home, my mother was standing there. I couldn’t believe what I saw. I felt betrayed."
Her brother said there were some people who wanted to talk with her. "I shouldn’t be afraid. He would stay with me. The living room was filled with men in white robes and long beards. They started to ask questions.
"One of them hit me with his fist in my face. I didn’t answer as I thought my brother would protect me. They grabbed me. Another hit me with his fist.
"They continued to hit me more and more, but then, somehow, I became aware that I was being protected, I didn’t feel the pain anymore. They kept on hitting and hitting me. I am still bearing the consequences of that day."
At last, their leader spoke to Maizah alone: "Your name is on a list of people who should be killed. I can make you an offer – I can marry you. I have three wives; you can be the fourth. If you do this, we will forget about all of this."
Shocked by the offer, Maizah agreed in order to gain time. She said she needed to see a doctor before she could marry him. He agreed to this but didn’t want her to go to a Libyan hospital. She was taken to neighbouring Tunisia. "They constantly kept an eye on me. There was no chance to run."
She had memorised the phone number of a pastor in that country, and, with the help of a doctor, she managed to escape. She found refuge in a safe house.
Her outraged family started a search for her, but the safe house proved to be safe indeed.
Today, Maizah lives in another country – she still serves Jesus.
SEE. CHANGE. FOR MORE WOMEN LIKE MAIZAH
You can help more believers like Maizah to shine for the people of North Africa and the Middle East - every £31 could train another Christian woman from a Muslim background to share the gospel and serve her community.
- That in her new country Maizah will be able to connect with a church, recover from her traumatic experiences and continue to shine as an example to others
- For Maizah’s family, that Jesus would reveal Himself to them and that He would reunite them with Maizah
- For God’s protection for the very few Christians who follow Jesus in Libya – please pray that their faith would continue to grow despite the pressures they face.
*Name has been changed for security reasons