From Darkness to Freedom in Christ3 min read

Two women from the Middle East, mother and daughter, who had previously lacked the freedom to know Christ, were baptized into the Christian faith at St. John, Rochester on June 2, 2016. “Sana” and “Naureen” (names changed) had limited but very positive exposure to the Christian faith in the Middle East before coming to America. As girls, they had both attended Catholic school. They had had Christian friends and went to a church, although only sporadically. For years they had wanted to learn more and to be connected to Christ, but the lack of religious freedom in their country and at home prevented them from doing so.

Making a Connection

Cynthia Khan stands by the Baptismal font with Sana and Naureen

Once they came to Rochester, Missionary Cynthia Khan of POBLO International connected with them. After they met, Khan felt led one day to call Naureen. “Thank you,” Naureen said, “You have no idea how much I needed someone to talk to and to pray with.” At that point, Khan began sending Bible verses electronically to Naureen every day, letting her know someone cared.

Three months passed. Then, one day, Naureen called and said, “Please come; I need prayer.” Khan went, along with her husband, Rev. Khurram Khan. That day, Sana and Naureen shared their whole life story. The Khans learned that both mother and daughter had endured years of oppression and abuse. That’s when the Khans could really begin to articulate the Gospel to them, and the women were ready to receive the good news of love, forgiveness, and acceptance through Christ.

A Dream Come True

Sana and Naureen were invited to church programs. Seeing that they enjoyed it, but also wanted more, Cynthia and others at POBLO began to teach the women from the Bible in a private setting. This culminated in their Baptism, which was officiated by Rev. Marce Schwichtenberg. About 40 people supported the women by attending the service in which Rev. Schwichtenberg spoke about Jesus’ command to preach the Gospel to the nations. Members of All Nations Lutheran Church, Troy sang a hymn in Urdu.

editedSana, the mother, confessed: “I wanted to be a Christian all my life, even before marriage.” And Naureen said at the Baptism, “There are no words to express how I feel.” There was great joy that day, and the tears flowed freely.

Their story tells us that God’s timing is everything. And certainly, that God is the One who makes all things possible. Sana and Naureen will continue their walk with Jesus. These our new sisters in Christ have come so very far to be able to hear the Gospel in a free country, and they are already experiencing the great joy of being able to freely worship and volunteer, without fear. We thank God for the miracle of faith! And we thank God for the joint ministry of POBLO and St. John Lutheran Church, and for the fruit it is producing!

Photos courtesy of POBLO International

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About the Author

Rev. Dr. Gary Rohwer is the Director of Missions and Education at POBLO International. He has served in Gospel outreach, community engagement, and church planting for over 30 years, with experience in Nigeria, Pakistan, India, Los Angeles, and Detroit. Dr. Rohwer has served among a dozen different Muslim ethnic groups and trains missionaries and congregations on how to engage their multi-cultural communities and share Christ’s love in culturally relevant ways.

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