- (Photo: Thomas Nelson)
Just three weeks after arriving in the United States from Kuwait, Naeem Fazal was at his brother's house one particular evening, ready to get some sleep.
Fazal, who was still a Muslim when he relocated to South Carolina following the devastating Gulf War, returned that night from attending a campus ministry event with his Christian brother. He was about to experience one of the most terrifying experiences of his life.
"As I was [turning the light out] that something grabbed me from my shoulders and dragged me and pinned me to my pillow," Fazal told The Christian Post. "I was just flipping out, like what is going on?"
When Fazal tried to break the hold, he found that "something" had sat on his legs, leaving him completely paralyzed from the neck down. Petrified, and aware of an "evil" presence in the room, Fazal began to scream, his terror only increased when he realized he could not hear his own voice. Then the door opened.
"So this thing walked in and I just sort of instantly knew it was a demon and it started speaking to me. It said, 'I'm going to kill you. You're going to die tonight,'" described Fazal.
Pastor Fazal's story, which he believes was not simply a nightmare, from that night in 1992 is a part of his supernatural testimony and the focus of his recently released memoir Ex-Muslim: How One Daring Prayer to Jesus Changed a Life Forever. CP will also publish a Q&A interview article with the leader of the North Carolina congregation Mosaic Church on Wednesday and Thursday.
Fazal, whose family is ethnically Pakistani, was born and raised in Kuwait to a family who had immigrated to the wealthy Arab nation searching for work.
After moving to the United States from Kuwait, Fazal's older brother had become a Christian during his first year of college in South Carolina. While the new Christian had at first concealed the information from his family, he later told them, and Fazal, who grew up in a Muslim home, became angry at his brother. At one point, he threatened to kill him because "he was going weird on us."
But Fazal soon joined his brother in South Carolina.
"After the Gulf War, Kuwait was pretty devastated and I was probably in the ninth or 10th grade, and [my dad] was like, 'You gotta do something. You need to stay in Kuwait and start working or you can try to go American and make it happen,'" said Fazal.
Eager to make friends and flirt with "blond women," Fazal began attending Fellowship for Christian Athletes, the campus ministry group at the South Carolina school his brother attended and through which had converted to Christianity.
"When my brother invited me to come and hang out with his group, I didn't know anyone. I started going to FCA and that's when things started changing," said Fazal. "I got exposed to Christianity and the message, the Gospel of Jesus and thought it was nuts, and that led to the encounter that night. That kind of changed everything."
Today, all of Fazal's brothers and sisters have converted to Christianity and he writes in his book that his relationship with is parents is proof that "peace between Muslims and Christians is possible."
"When I started talking to my mom and dad about the truth and what I believed and are we really right, and why everything they believed in is wrong, it did not work, it did not fly," said Fazal. "Regardless of how much supernatural whatever-whatever I had. I was dishonoring them like crazy."
Recently, Fazal's parents, who now live in the United States, moved in with him, his wife Ashley, and their two kids for three years.
"[My mom] would pray to Allah and do her prayer and it was definitely like what are we going to allow? What is okay? It really sparked some conversation for me and Ashley," said Fazal. "Do we really believe the stuff in Scriptures and do we really believe the fact that we are supposed accept and honor one another in reverence in Christ? Or are we going to think they have demons or cooties or something and I don't want them in my house?"
Fazal acknowledged his relationship with his father is still "poor," but that he has made inroads living out his Christianity with his mother, often by mentioning Jesus "not as a theory, but as a person."
"When she says, 'Can you pray for this for me?' I say, 'You need to just talk to Jesus.' And she says stuff like, 'I've talked to Him and I'm mad at Him.' She talks about Him like he's an actual person," noted Fazal.
"[Living with my parents] actually allowed us to really reframe our thinking, in that people are people and they are loved by God and they are on a journey. We can actually fully accept people who are very different from us and believe very differently than us and don't have to create this 'us versus them.' That was the language; that was the tone in the beginning — us versus them, and now it's no longer."