April 08, 2014
Anything for Jesus
By Joan Hutter
A few weeks ago I sat in the studio and watched as an international evangelist spoke to millions of people in the Muslim world through a TV camera. I sat there, along with a handful from the staff at Christian Aid Mission, and interceded while Isik Abla spoke a gospel message in Turkish on God’s awesome power. I don’t understand Turkish, but I felt the encouragement in my heart as she prayed with people calling in live from Turkey and across the Middle East.
A few weeks later that Turkish evangelist, a former Muslim, visited Christian Aid Mission and shared her incredible testimony with the staff here. We were deeply moved. Isik Abla dreamed of freedom her whole life, and now she is setting captives free across the earth through her testimony and the power of the gospel broadcast by satellite to half a billion people in five languages.
She seeks for every heart to know the Lord and His powerful, transforming love, and she presses on to this end despite threats from those who want to stop her message of truth, love, and life.
As I write, she is preparing for her live show, where people across the earth call in for prayer and she prays for them on the air. Many give their lives to the Lord Jesus right there. I love to pray for her show and ministry. I sit at the piano here at Christian Aid and sing scriptures of salvation springing up across the Middle East as she proclaims the gospel of freedom.
Many others dream freedom, and they find it through her testimony of Christ’s redemption in her life.
Her story, captured beautifully in her autobiography, “I Dreamed Freedom,” reaches deep into every heart who encounters her.
Born in Turkey, Isik Abla (which means, “Sister Light”) grew up as an abused girl in a devout Muslim household. She memorized much of the Koran as a child and fasted during Ramadan since before she was 10 years old. She married young to escape abuse imposed by her parents, but her marriage turned out worse. She suffered daily beatings and verbal abuse and barely escaped a murder attempt by her husband.
When she did, she bought a one-way ticket to America, where she spiraled into depression. On the day she decided she would end her own life, she went to work and wept her way through the morning. Her boss, a Christian, called her into his office and told her about the Lord Jesus.
That day she received the Lord and encountered His joy and peace in a profound way. She has never been the same.
Anything for Jesus
“Anything for Jesus,” she told her first pastor. “I’ll do anything. I’ll scrub the floors, take out the trash. Anything.”
“I want you to give your testimony next Sunday morning,” he said.
She agreed, even though she didn’t know what a testimony was. She spoke little English. She drove home and looked up the word in the dictionary. When she saw the definition, she gasped. How could she speak in front of the church? Her accent was so thick, who would understand her?
But she had said “anything,” so she began to write. The next Sunday she delivered her testimony in broken English. She raked through all the devastating moments; she broke open memories like jars tightly sealed, like Mary, breaking open her alabaster bottle.
When she finished the altar filled with people wanting to recommit their lives to the Lord. One girl turned from suicide.
That was the beginning. She gave her testimony time after time over the next few years. Now she speaks to the whole Middle East in five languages through multiple television programs.
From Turkey the Lord picked her up, moved her to the United States, and is using her to reach the Muslim world.
There is something about broadcasting that reaches into the dark living rooms of those who will never hear a knock on their door … but will turn on the TV. Even in the bush in remote regions, natives have cell phones and can hear the gospel message on television. Satellite dishes pepper the slums.
God is using a formerly abused Muslim woman—who grew up and wore the burka, covering the head, face and body, veiled from the world … who grew up praying and fasting and eating the scriptures of her angry god … and who learned early that women were as good as dirt; they were not to speak, laugh or look a man in the eye. This is still a tremendous problem in the world.
God is using Isik Abla to speak back into that nation, and many more, to help lift the veil from the faces of women. Even the men who beat their wives call in live to ask how they can change.
Serving the One In Front of Her
Though she speaks to the world, she always says the person right in front of her is the most important one. “How can I be a missionary to the world,” she says, “if I cannot serve the one right in front of me.”
For instance, she saw a woman in the mall wearing a veil, hidden beneath dark garments and looking miserable. At first she thought she’d go and share the gospel with her. But then she waited on the Lord. He had a different thought.
She walked to the woman and looked her in the eyes and said simply, “My Lord Jesus wants you to know that you are beautiful, and He loves you.”
With a quiet voice the woman said, “Thank you.”
On another occasion Isik saw a weary leader and pulled her into a quiet place, took out a bucket and towel and washed her feet in the name of Jesus Christ.
What else can she do? This is what the Lord does. He not only speaks to the masses but to each individual. Isik Abla does this out of the overflow of the gratitude in her heart. She wants every woman to know the freedom in Christ which she has tasted, especially those in the Middle East, who are cloaked and veiled in isolation and despair.
“I was a mess, and God made me a message,” she said. “I was trash, and He made me treasure.”