Ali Sassi was a professional soccer player in Tunisia. One day after a match he was approached by a man on the opposing team and invited to the man’s home. “I don’t know you,” Ali thought to himself. With a smile, he politely declined.
The next week, the same man invited him again. Ali declined.
Week after week, again and again, his opponent extended the same invitation. Finally, Ali was curious. He accepted, and went home with the man who now was becoming a familiar face.
Entering the house, Ali was met by several other young people his age. They sat on couches and began to pray to God. For Ali, this was a strange experience. Why are they not on their knees? That is the right way, the Islamic way, he thought to himself. Afterwards he approached his friend and asked him to explain.
“This is a house church,” the man replied.
“But that is haram, unholy!” Ali exclaimed. For a Muslim, the informality of meeting in a home, sitting on couches to pray and study the Word of God was an improper and shameful way to approach a holy God. There were rules to follow in order to be accepted by Him. And Ali had not observed any of those rules being followed in this house church meeting. It was a completely different experience for him.
His host further explained, “God loves us. He wants a relationship with us. We can approach Him as we are, from anywhere. Sitting or walking, we can pray to God.”
The man then showed Ali a Bible. Ali backed away, refusing to touch it.
“This book is corrupted,” said Ali.
“How do you know?”
“Everyone knows. It was changed,” he replied.
“Show me. Which verse was changed?”
Ali was listening carefully now. He loved a challenge. He took the Bible and left with it, intent on his mission to identify just where the book had been changed. He thought the task would be easy, and that he would return quickly to prove this Christian wrong.
That night Ali began reading and could not stop. In the wee hours of the morning, he was still reading, and could not find anything wrong with the Bible. The details and grace of the Scriptures deeply impressed him. Ali was challenged deeply.
Finding the Answer
For two years, he wrestled and read the Injeel. He found a peace he had never known within its pages. Turning to God, one night he prayed, Now that I’ve finally found you, I will never let You go.
The next morning Ali knocked on the door of his former opponent’s house. He had not seen him for two years.
When he opened the door, Ali told him, “I have been searching and searching, and have not found the answers to your questions. But I have found something else. Can I pray with you to accept Jesus in my life?”
His friend embraced him and welcomed him into the family of Christ that very day.
Ali’s journey to Christ is not unlike the journey many have made out of Islam to the Savior. False beliefs about Christianity, like the corruption of the New Testament, have often been passed down and taught without challenge or investigation. Ali was faithfully following what he had heard his whole life. But when he sat down to examine the Bible for himself, he was met with a truth he had not expected and it transformed his life. This journey all began with an invitation, a follower of Jesus who was willing to reach out and include a Muslim in his life.
Have you been encouraged by Ali’s story today? Perhaps you have been waiting for two years or longer for someone to respond to your efforts to reach them with Christ’s love. Ali’s story reminds us that the words in the Bible have the power to transform lives. Introducing our Muslim friends to the Bible can be the beginning of their journey to finding Christ for themselves.
Ali and his wife Melissa now serve with Crescent Project as Area Coordinators with Crescent Project.