Padina is what you would call your “model Muslim.” The young Iranian woman was born and raised on the Quran—studying and memorizing its scripture every day before school. She learned to hate Christians and even believed in the promise that killing a Christian would get her a one-way ticket to heaven—and who wouldn’t want that?
Following the daily rituals and prayers, Padina did everything in her power to be the Muslim she needed to be in order to get to life after this. But serving a false god was exhausting, and it left her feeling empty, hopeless and depressed.
Though she had spent her life worshiping Allah, Padina felt as though Allah was nowhere to be found in her time of disparity. She felt “so distant from Allah” and wasn’t seeing the healing she believed He could deliver.
While flipping through the TV one night prior to the executions of her mother and herself, Padina came across a Christian pastor evangelizing on the screen in front of her. He was encouraging Iranians and Muslims like her that there is Truth in the promise that “the Lord has a hope and future” for them.
Padina’s hateful heart toward Christians started fuming. She was so consumed by the false god she’d faithfully served that she couldn’t see the hope that the Lord had to offer her.
Her anger turned to rage when she found her mother praying a prayer of salvation on the phone with the evangelical pastor from the television program.
Rather than begging for death as she had before, Padina’s mother begged her daughter to pray with the pastor. Death had turned to light, and she had experienced the One who brings life.
“Jesus can do nothing,” she responded to her mother. “Jesus is nothing. I will not blaspheme Muhammad.”
She wound up speaking to the pastor—only to tell him that she was going to kill herself and Jesus can do nothing to save her.
To her surprise, the pastor didn’t try to stop her. Instead he challenged her saying, “Allah has done nothing for you. Give Jesus a chance. You can always kill yourself next week.”
Determined to prove him wrong, Padina took on the pastor’s challenge with the burning desire to be able to call the next week during the live program and prove to the Christian audience that “Jesus is nothing.”
Our God is a lot of wonderful things, but one of my favorite things about Him is His incredible sense of humor. Test him in your selfishness, and he will prove you wrong every time.
The next morning, Padina woke to her mother walking down the hall—something she was unable to do on her own before as a result of her MS.
Padina rushed her mother to the hospital where an MRI and lab tests all concluded that she no longer was suffering from MS—an incurable disease. Less than 24 hours after giving her life to Christ, she was healed. Now she served as a living testimony to the goodness and faithfulness of Jesus Christ. She received healing that no other god—not even Padina’s beloved Allah—could provide.
When pressed by the doctor for which Imam she prayed to for her mother’s healing, Padina took herself by surprise saying, “It wasn’t an Imam; it was Jesus.”
She explains, “When I said those words, my heart changed.”
The following week, Padina called back into the live Christian TV program. But rather than killing herself as she’d originally planned, she spoke a prayer directly to Jesus in a powerful confession of faith: “You are the living God. You cleansed me and filled me. I’ll give up my life for you.”
She found what she’d been missing, and an ultimatum she swore she’d never take is ultimately what led her to Jesus Christ.
Her testimony reminds me of that of Paul—one of the greatest church planters of all time. Paul (who was once Saul) spent his life killing Christians. But God’s supernatural love and healing is what changed Paul’s heart. Even from the depths of what theologians believe to be his jail cell, Paul served and praised God faithfully until the day he died.
Hearing the shift in Padina’s heart makes me believe that she too will faithfully serve Jesus Christ—the One True God—until her final breath.
May we rejoice with this beautiful woman today! Her soul is saved, and she finally knows the truth—that the Lord has a wonderful plan for her life, and He will never leave or forsake her.