I have been saved since the summer between middle school and high school, but for the past year, I have been drifting farther and farther away from God. I never stopped believing in Him, but circumstances in my life had led me to live as if He didn’t exist. I stopped giving, serving, and attending small group. Then, I stopped going to church altogether. I stopped reading my Bible, and my prayer life dwindled to practically nonexistent. I had decided that sleeping in, working out, and watching TV was far more fun and more important than God.
Fast forward to the day of the Boston Marathon Bombings. I was sitting at my desk at work when the notifications started coming across my phone. My first reaction was immediate fear and concern for all of my friends in Boston. Relief came as one-by-one, I received messages letting me know that they were all okay.
I’ve never been one to follow the news. I’m still not sure if it was just interest because of how close to home the tragedy hit, or if God was working on my heart already, but from that moment on, I couldn’t look away. Despite the fact that many people I love were very close to the violence that day and could have been seriously hurt or killed……the second I saw the suspects’ faces, all I felt was compassion. As the manhunt ensued, I found it difficult to work. I was constantly checking for updates on the situation. As soon as I got home, I turned on the news, and I sat and watched until Jahar was apprehended. In the days that followed, I stayed up late at night watching videos and reading everything I could.
From the beginning, it was almost as if I heard God whispering to me, “Pray for him. Pray without ceasing.” I prayed for him daily. I prayed for his health and for healing from his injuries. I prayed for him to be protected from any kind of torture or abuse. I prayed for his rights to be respected. I prayed for him to be treated like a human being……for him to get enough natural light and for him to have someone to talk to. I prayed for him to be strong. For God to wrap His arms around Jahar and love him through this. For Jahar to have hope, faith, and peace. I prayed for his family. I prayed for his friends. I prayed for his lawyers and the jury. As more and more related tragedies happened, I began praying for Dias, Aza, and Robel. I began praying for the Todashev family. I would pray out loud for my whole commute to work in the morning. One night I sat outside watching a beautiful meteor shower, and I just sat and stared at the sky and prayed for Jahar for an hour. Through all of this, I slowly started feeling more connected to God again. I began to turn worship music on in the car and use it to help me pray for Jahar. I started considering going to church again.
And then……I came across the Christians United for Jahar blog. Initially, I was excited to see that there were others who felt the way that I felt. I started reading the blog….but I began to get annoyed rather immediately. I found myself reading about praying for Jahar to turn from Islam and toward Christ, and I got angry. What was wrong with Islam? Don’t we all worship the same God? If someone is a good person and loves God, how could God turn them away from heaven? Weren’t there more important things to pray about? But wait – if I believe that, then am I inherently unChristian? I struggled with this internally for days, and I found myself doubting and questioning everything. Finally, when I couldn’t take it anymore – I sent Bri a message, laid it all out on the line, and asked for help. She took time out of her day to write back, and she talked me through what the Bible has to say about salvation. She reminded me that it is not through our good works that we are saved, but through accepting Jesus’s payment for our sins. It was all things I already knew, but I desperately needed the reminder. I left our conversation feeling more encouraged than I had in weeks. Almost immediately, I began praying for Jahar’s salvation. Soon thereafter, God spoke to my heart again and made me so sure that He would use Jahar to lead so many people to Him.
Weeks later, I joined three sisters in Christ from across the country in fasting and all-night prayer for Jahar. Since that night, God has used them in my life to help heal my relationship with Him. I have returned to church, my prayer life has deepened significantly, and I am in God’s word daily. My life reflects my faith once again.
Although it is not always easy having Jahar’s situation weighing so heavily on my heart, I am humbled and honored that God placed it there. It is an absolute joy to pray for him daily and to believe that, all things being possible with God, he WILL be saved. “Then Jesus said to the disciples, “Have faith in God. I tell you the truth, you can say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and it will happen. But you must really believe it will happen and have no doubt in your heart. I tell you, you can pray for anything, and if you believe that you’ve received it, it will be yours. But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too.”” (Mark 11:22-25)
I continue to be in awe of this beautiful tapestry that God is weaving together, with so many layers and complexities. It began as a quiet whisper in my heart to love and pray for someone who the world sees as unlovable. Through that call and through my doubts, God has lead me to sisters in Christ that have brought me back to Him and have come alongside me to encourage me daily. I praise Him for the blessing of their friendship, for the newness of my relationship with Him, and for the honor of being even a small part of leading Jahar home.
Author’s Note: Although when I wrote this story, I shared that I have been saved since the summer between middle school and high school – I now realize that I was never truly saved until the night I sent that message to Bri. I used to think that I could do whatever I wanted, and it would be okay because I was forgiven. Now that I am truly saved, I never want to do anything to hurt my God. Church used to be something reserved for Sundays. Now I follow Him daily. My life has been completely transformed within the last year, and I can’t stop praising Jesus for choosing me to pray for Jahar. He has used His calling to rescue me and cause me to fall so deeply in love with Him. How amazing is our God?