Michael Paul''s Testimony

God said I would not be appreciated by my own people, and that I should wipe the dust from my feet and move on. As I walked away from Baghdad, I realized my life would never be the same, but I knew God had chosen a path for me which was far greater than my life of ease in Iraq. My father had always encouraged me to be myself, to ask questions and to love reading and learning. Even though my family was Muslim, they were fairly liberal and didn’t fully practice the teachings of Islam. However, being the youngest boy in my family, traditionally, required I forego summer vacation in my twelfth year and spend my days memorizing the Qur’an and all of its associated teachings. The things I learned that year began raising questions in me about the Islamic faith, and caused me a great deal of trouble with the Imams over the next several years. Nevertheless, I carried on in my faith, even defending it and looking down on those “infidels” who were non-believers.
Internally, I was conflicted about my beliefs and those of my family and nation, so when a long time Christian friend told me about Jesus of the Bible, and how He was different than the Jesus in the Qur’an, I was curious. He loaned me his Bible and I took it only with the intention of proving him wrong. In Islam, it is considered blasphemous to question the faith, and unclean to even touch the Bible. I had heard it contained some sort of “voodoo”, so I was a little afraid to read it. I told my father what happened, and surprisingly, he said, “If you wanted to read the Bible, you could have read one of the three we have in our library.” I am not sure whether my father was saved or not, but he was definitely not fully committed to Islam, if he was willing to allow me this foray into Christianity. Reading my friend’s Bible changed my life. It became an obsession for me, calling to me as if it were a long lost friend. I turned my back on Islam when I learned the Truth of the Bible: that Jesus is the only path to salvation, that there is only one God and that the Bible is His Word. I found many of the writings of Mohammed are actually “copy/pasted” from the Bible and reworded a little bit to fit the doctrine of Islam.
I spent the next several years as a baby Christian, thirsty for the Word, eager to share what I had found, but my faith would only become solidified when I was required to suffer for it. I had been trying to find someone to baptize me, but the churches in the Middle East were afraid to risk baptizing a Muslim. They feared my life would then be endangered, or their own lives would be threatened because it is not legal for a resident of a Muslim country to change their religious status. If they are born Muslims, they will remain Muslim. Some churches were concerned I was a government spy, come to trap them for baptizing a Muslim into Christianity, so I had nearly given up all hope of being baptized to identify with my Savior and His followers. I then heard the U.S. Military was hiring locals as interpreters, and thought this might give me an opportunity. I applied and was accepted as Interpreter and Culture Advisor, serving an Admiral in the U.S. Navy during Operation Iraqi Freedom. When they accepted my application, they asked why I had left the space blank asking the reason I applied. When I told the receiving officer I wanted to get baptized, he came around the desk and gave me a big hug.
Over the next three years, I had many opportunities to share my faith and learn how to live as a Christian, but God also grew my faith in Him through trials. After my father died, my older brother became head of the family, as is tradition in my country. He found my baptism certificate in my bedroom and petitioned the Sharia Court to arrest me for Apostasy. It is common for the Sharia Court to give an apostate the opportunity to repent, allowing up to thirty days in jail to convince them to recant , before a sentence of death is handed down. I was terrified I would be killed because there was no way I would renounce my new found faith in Christ, and I knew there was nothing I could say to convince the judges of my innocence. I remembered how God promised He would act on my behalf if I would just allow Him to, so prayed for God to speak through me. Thanks to the Holy Spirit, I delivered the most compelling Gospel Message I have ever heard, and God softened the heart of one of those Sharia Court judges, using him in a profound way. He released me from custody instead of retaining me in jail until my statement of repentance within thirty days. He was very clear, I would face death if I didn’t repent, and I was equally clear, I would never repent! Still, God came through in a Divine miracle that day.
Without any of my assets or belongings, I was released with less than a hundred dollars in my pocket. My friends and family disowned me and my beloved mother told me she wished I was never born, and I has nowhere to go. My boss had thankfully already begun the process of obtaining a Special Immigrant Visa for me because my life was in imminent danger due to my service to the U.S. Military, so I decided to escape to Syria and have my request paperwork transferred there. I thought I would be safer outside Iraq, away from the Sharia Court order. I should have consulted God before I made this decision, because when I arrived in Syria, I was arrested by the militia, who held me for days, with my hands cuffed behind my back, strung up to the ceiling until my shoulders popped from their joints. They tortured me relentlessly, thinking I was a spy for the Americans, using high-tensile cable to whip me with, water boarding me in filthy water, and electrocuting me in every part of my body. I survived only by the grace of God. I prayed for Him to take me home, but instead, he came to me in a vision of Holy proportions, relieving me of my pain, causing me great joy, which made my torturers think I had lost my mind. They released my at the Syrian/Iraqi border, battered and bruised beyond recognition.
I spent the next fourteen months hiding from my family and the Iraqi officials, who would hand me over for my death sentence. I spent some time living homeless, then living underground, moving from one apartment to the next, as danger would begin to increase. I was supported in prayer by a faithful group of people around the world, including an award winning Christian author I met online, her family and former colleagues from my service to the U.S. troops. God used them powerfully to keep me safe and bring me home to my new country. This is only a small portion of my testimony, which God has used mightily since I relocated to north Idaho. He created a ministry called Salvation For Muslims, through my testimony and knowledge of Muslim Faith and Culture. I share my journey with others, that they might have a desire to serve God with me in bringing the Muslims to faith in Christ. I speak in many churches, on campuses, on the radio and at conferences for Evangelizing Muslims. Please feel free to contact me at www.salvationformuslims.com