Author’s note: Ever wondered what it was like to live in a country so dangerous for believers that you were forced to go to an Underground Church? For 20 over years, we’ve had the privilege to visit churches like that! Talk about a mind blower. Meeting in the middle of the night in Saudi Arabia, Syria, or the Gaza Strip, with passionate believers who are former Muslims and willing to die for Jesus will elevate your faith to a new level.
Meet Jamilla from Syria. She’s from a fundamentalist Muslim family in the middle of a war zone. She should’ve died, and would’ve died, but then Jesus arrived. He specializes in the impossible. Jamilla wants you to hear her story. Ever wonder what it’s like to go to an Underground Church? C’mon, let’s go there now.
The dead bolt clicked loudly in a heavy metal door. Curtains slid shut. One by one, women in drab hijabs entered furtively from a side entrance.
They exchanged enthusiastic hugs and cheek kisses. Then, after a head count, padlocks snapped into place on the door they had entered. Lights dimmed, and the weekly women’s Bible study meeting for former Muslims was ready to begin. In a fundamentalist city renowned for its honor killings, no security precaution was too extreme.
Roughly a dozen women settled into chairs. Nervous excitement rippled through the group at the presence of a special guest. Naima, the group leader, smiled and asked each participant to introduce herself to the American woman named JoAnn.
When my turn came for an introduction, I asked if they felt comfortable removing their hijabs. As the ladies gently unwrapped the coverings from around their faces, I tried not to let my jaw drop at the beauty disclosed before my eyes. Radiant smiles widened even further as the women were seen for who they are.
I asked if we could hear their stories because I knew each one had endured more than I could imagine, and I was right. The evening produced more firsthand accounts of Jesus’ miracles than I’ve ever heard in any one meeting. Jamila spoke first while Naima translated for us.
Jamila Speaks About Defying the Death Sentence
My fate was clear. It was too late for any reprieve. I was set to die, and there was nothing I could do about it. Even if I could have moved, it was no use.
I would shortly depart this world from Deir ez-Zor, Syria, like so many others during our miserable war, but it wasn’t the Islamic State that pronounced my death sentence. It was Dr. Basil Hussein, one of the most respected neurologists in Syria. He explained to my family the end that he believed was inevitable.
“I’m sorry to tell the Darwish family this news, but a blood vessel ruptured, and Jamila experienced a massive stroke. If only she could have had her blood pressure medicine.” He spoke wistfully.
“I know medical supplies and prescriptions are scarce and too expensive for most people, but this was prevent- able.” His voice was sad. “But then, maybe these days, it is not preventable in Deir ez-Zor.
“Jamila is paralyzed on her right side, and I just don’t see how she can come out of this coma. Her vitals are extremely erratic. My best guess is that she may have a day or two left — unless Allah intervenes, of course. I apologize for saying this to you, but it’s time to plan her funeral.”
What no one in my hospital room knew was that I had clearly heard every one of the doctor’s words. My mother and sisters burst into tears at my bedside.
I couldn’t talk, couldn’t move. Alone in my mind, I cried at my hopeless, helpless situation. The isolation crushed me.
But then, suddenly, I was not alone. The room erupted in dazzling light, and a Man stood at the foot of my bed.
He smiled and called my name. Jamila, I am Jesus! I hear you’ve been looking for Me.
In my most extreme dreams, I could not have imagined this, but Jesus stood in my room. Even though I was a practicing Muslim, I knew who He was. The Qur’an speaks of Jesus. And I’d also heard that He had been appearing miraculously to people during the Syrian war.
In fact, I remembered thinking one day previously when life was beyond hard that I wished Jesus would visit me. There was so much hate all around. But Jesus was about love — so I had heard. And we needed some of that in Syria.
Evidently He knew I had wished for His presence because He said to me, Jamila, I know you’re longing for Me to visit you. I’ve heard your cries. Here I am. I’ve come to heal you for My glory.
I wondered if this was really happening or if it was a hallucination brought on by my medications, or maybe it was just a crazy dream. Then… Jesus touched my hand — my paralyzed hand — and heat instantly diffused through my whole body.
I heard my mother shout, “Dr. Hussein! Jamila’s hand just moved! Did you see it?”
I could hear her jump out of the chair next to my bed.
Dr. Hussein stepped next to the bed and hovered above me with my family, looking for signs of movement. He was skeptical.
“I didn’t see her move. Are you sure, Mrs. Darwish? I just don’t think so.”
I could hear nurses checking monitors. Dr. Hussein was telling family members that my vitals did not show anything indicating improvement when, suddenly, I felt like reaching out to Jesus. My right hand lifted in worship, and Jesus, still at the foot of my bed, smiled lovingly at me.
I heard screams in the room and a thud on the floor as my mother passed out cold.
Dr. Hussein yelled through the chaos, “Is she trying to grab someone’s hand?”
I actually was! I desperately wanted to touch Jesus — like the woman with the issue of blood who touched the hem of His garment.
I know Jesus could have healed me instantaneously. He has the power to do that. But it’s possible that my family might have thought I just snapped out of the coma, and Dr. Hussein had simply been wrong in his diagnosis. So over the next few days, Jesus healed me progressively. Each time, He touched a different part of my body. After my hand, it was my right leg. Jesus came in a vision the following morning, and with just one finger He touched my knee. The paralysis left instantly.
The next day I gained a full range of motion in my neck and shoulders. My face muscles began to work, except that my eyes would not open, and I still could not speak. But then, another day later, my eyes and mouth opened while my whole family watched. I looked straight up, my eyes staring toward the ceiling, as Jesus faded from the room.
The first words I heard my father say were “Allahu akbar! Allahu akbar!”* But my first words were “Jesus, Jesus, don’t leave me! I love You.”
That certainly quieted the room. My shocked family could not comprehend the words that hung in the air.
Then… boom! A massive explosion in the street interrupted the stunned silence.
In Deir ez-Zor, peace is short lived. Even after a great miracle like I experienced, the brutal reality of war set in. Oil fields — and the massive Conoco oil facility — along our part of the Euphrates River means that in eastern Syria no city is more coveted by international powers. Iran, Russia, and America are all there.
Our morbid history includes the slaughter of Armenians by the Turks in 1915 to show that Islam triumphed over Christianity. And at the time of my healing, the Islamic State maintained a strong presence in the city to prove that they were the new champions of the Muslim faith. Chaos, carnage, and confusion were normal in Deir ez-Zor.
After Jesus healed me, the war worsened, and my family fled Syria. We could go either north to Turkey or south to Jordan, but the border in northern Syria was nearly impassable because of Turkey’s battle against the Kurds. So we headed south.
The streets in Jerash, Jordan, didn’t look much different than the streets of Deir ez-Zor. Refugees have nothing to do, so even many of the men had no work to go to during the day. But I was on a mission. I wanted to find Jesus — somehow.
Where could I go, I wondered, to find out more about the Man who had healed me? Obviously I couldn’t talk openly to anyone with my family present. Although they often discussed the healing in my life, they gave credit to Allah, not to Jesus. Yet I knew the truth.
Then one day in the outdoor market, I saw a woman wearing a cross necklace. In Deir ez-Zor, you could get killed for doing that, but I guessed Jordan must be a little laxer.
I followed her, working up the courage to ask a question. When she stopped at a vegetable stand, I saw my chance as she was picking out cucumbers.
“Jesus healed me of paralysis when I was in a coma.”
I blurted out the words and could see that I’d startled the woman. Who is this mysterious person in a burka talking about Jesus? she must have wondered.
“Do you know how I can find out more information about Jesus? I’m a Muslim, so I think I have a lot to learn. And marhaba. My name is Jamila. What’s yours?”
The woman just looked at me for a moment, then introduced herself as Maria. And had Jesus ever led me to the right person!
Despite my abrupt, awkward self-introduction, Maria was warm and gracious. Over tea during the next couple of weeks, we became good friends. I asked her every question I could think of about Jesus. Although I was already convinced that Jesus had all power and was the Savior of the world, I had to know what it would be like to become a believer in a radical Muslim family.
When Maria told me that I was the one sent by God to reach my family, I was ready. I gave my life to Jesus; it was a day I will never forget!
The glorious thing is that Maria was right. Over time, every single person in my family — including my father — came to faith in Christ. What a miracle! It’s rare that a family of people who practice fundamentalist Islam all become believers. So I am privileged and blessed beyond anything I could have imagined. Jesus used the miracle of my healing to open the hearts of my family.
Still, it wasn’t easy. The process took a long time, and we faced spiritual warfare all the way, but my mother, father, and siblings are now in the family of God. We’re a Muslim family from Deir ez-Zor that loves Jesus!
My healing was the key. How could they deny what had happened? Everyone saw the miracle, and how could they deny the transformation in my life? I used to be negative and caustic, but today, I’m filled with the love of God.
I let Jamila’s story sink in. Then the group began worshiping Jesus, and I encouraged them by reading Scripture. We prayed for Jamila and her family. They’re believers now, but they’re also still refugees. And after years of streaming into the country, displaced Syrians are often despised and rejected. Yet you would never know that by looking at Jamila’s joy-filled face.
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all. — Psalm 34:18-19 ESV
*Allahu akbar is Arabic for “God is great! God is great!”
Excerpted with permission from Women Who Risk-Secret Agents for Jesus in the Muslim World by Tom and JoAnn Doyle, copyright Thomas James Doyle and JoAnn Marie Doyle.
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Jesus specializes in the impossible. And, He specializes in reaching and rescuing His beloved ones in impossible situations! He is near the brokenhearted! ~ Laurie McClure, Faith.Full