Monsurat [mohn-soo-RAHT] is from Nigeria. As a teen, she was curious about her neighbor. He didn’t go to the mosque on Friday, and always seemed relaxed and happy. She wondered what made him so different. Finally she found the courage to ask him, “What religion do you follow?”
“I am a Seventh-day Adventist Christian,” her neighbor replied, smiling. Monsurat had never heard of Seventh-day Adventists, though she knew a bit about Christians. “I can give you a book to read about my religion, if you want,” her neighbor offered.
“Yes, please,” Monsurat answered. Her neighbor gave her a small book called Steps to Christ. Monsurat thanked the man, tucked the book under her shawl, and hurried home. When she was alone, she began reading the book. Although her parents couldn’t read, Monsurat knew that they would be angry if they knew she had a Christian book.
Monsurat was not convinced that Christianity was good, so before she returned to boarding school she returned the book to her neighbor. Busy with her studies and friends, Monsurat soon forgot about the neighbor with the strange religion.
When vacation came, Monsurat returned home, and remembered her friendly neighbor. One day he invited her to go to church on Saturday.
“I can’t go,” Monsurat said, genuinely sorry. “I have special classes on Saturday.”
“Perhaps when your classes are over,” her neighbor said, disappointment evident in his voice.
“No, wait,” Monsurat said firmly. “I want to see what your church is like.” That Saturday Monsurat prepared for class, but went to church instead. She was curious to see if the other people were as kind as her neighbor.The church members welcomed Monsurat warmly. She enjoyed the service, though it was so different from the religious services in her mosque. Every week Monsurat went to church instead of to her class. Because church finished at the same time as the class, her parents never knew. Monsurat received a Bible and began reading. She learned to pray as these Christians prayed. She asked God to help her live a good life. She had been mischievous, but now she was determined that her teachers would see a difference in her life.
When Monsurat returned to school, she missed going to church. Then she discovered an Adventist church an hour away. She got up early on Saturday morning to catch the bus to church. She spent most of the day there, returning to school in the evening. Before the school year ended, Monsurat gave her life to Christ and asked to be baptized into the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Monsurat didn’t tell where she went on Saturdays, but her friends noticed changes in her. She had become more responsible and obedient, When vacation came, Monsurat attended her neighbor’s church. Her parents asked where she went every Saturday, for they knew she no longer had classes. And they asked why she had removed her jewelry.
When the family went to the mosque to pray Monsurat went, but instead of reciting the prayers, she prayed in her heart to Jesus. Her mother noticed her silence and asked why. Monsurat decided that she could no longer hide her faith. She would be honest and tell her parents she had become a Christian. Furious, they forbade her from speaking to her Christian neighbor or attending any church. They talked to her friends and teachers and tried to force her to renounce her Christian faith. But as much as Monsurat wanted to obey her parents, she refused to give up her Jesus.
Finally Monsurat’s father told her that she was no longer his daughter. She had to leave the house, and he wouldn’t pay for the two remaining years of her high school education.
Terrified of being on her own, Monsurat prayed and God’s peace flooded over her. She claimed Psalm 27:10 as her hope: “Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me” (NIV).
Church members helped pay her school fees, and she lived with a friend near the school.
Monsurat often tried talking with her parents, but they refused. Once her mother visited her at school. Monsurat was excited until she realized that her mother was taking her to a spiritual “healer.” Reluctantly Monsurat followed, carrying a small Bible. When the healer saw Monsurat, she told her mother, “Leave her alone. Let her do what she has decided to do.” Relieved, Monsurat returned to school. Church members visited Monsurat’s parents, pleading to let their daughter return home. When Monsurat graduated, her father allowed her to return home. Monsurat hoped that at last her parents had accepted her religion, but was soon told, “If you don’t do what we tell you, you must leave this house again!”
Realizing she couldn’t continue living at home, Monsurat asked a church elder what to do. He suggested that she study at Babcock University, the Adventist school in Nigeria. The church would pay her fees. Monsurat enrolled in the nursing program. Her parents are proud of what she has achieved, and they occasionally visit her. Monsurat prays that her family will accept Jesus and hopes that her story will help other young people to stand firm in their faith.
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